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Top 10 Mars Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Derick Mcduff. These movies are out of this world. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 Mars movies. For this list, we’re considering movies that either take place on Mars or where Mars or Martians are important to the plot. And, we’re looking more at how they use the planet in their stories, rather than how critically or commercially successful the film might be as a whole. So grab your spacesuits and let’s take off. Special thanks to our users Jamie Armstrong, Margaret Rd and Andrew A. Dennison for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Derick Mcduff.

Top 10 Mars Movies

These movies are out of this world. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Mars movies.

For this list, we’re considering movies that either take place on Mars or where Mars or Martians are important to the plot. And, we’re looking more at how they use the planet in their stories, rather than how critically or commercially successful the film might be as a whole. So grab your spacesuits and let’s take off.

#10: “Mars Needs Moms” (2011)

In this kid-friendly flick, nine-year-old Milo wishes that he never had a mother. His wish comes true when Martians coincidentally capture her, so Milo travels to Mars with a few quirky sidekicks to save her. Although the film drew some criticism for its lack of originality, its realistic 3D motion capture and acting performances have been well received. Interestingly, “Mars Needs Moms” has more Martian heritage than meets the eye. The film’s director, Simon Wells, is actually the great grandson of H.G. Wells, author of the Martian invasion novel “The War of the Worlds.”

#9: “Ghosts of Mars” (2001)

Released during a Mars-related film renaissance at the turn of the millennium, John Carpenter’s “Ghosts of Mars” manages to combine the director’s signature horror style with science fiction. Filled with great action and fighting scenes, the film follows a police officer who arrives in a small mining town on Mars for a routine prisoner transport, but upon arrival, she discovers the miners have unleashed an ancient evil. As the name suggests, spirits from long dead Martians return to possess and kill humans, whom they believe to be evil invaders. Despite its lack of critical and commercial success, the flick still has that John Carpenter appeal, which is what lands it here.

#8: “Doom” (2005)

“Doom,” which features action stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Karl Urban, is an adaptation of the video game series that helped establish the first person shooter genre. Part of the action sci-fi movie’s success can be attributed to the fact that it’s been able to recreate the feelings of horror and violence that make the games so popular, even having a sequence that replicates the first person shooter perspective. It also has many of the staples often found in other Mars-related movies, such as space marines, malfunction facilities, and, of course, lots of secrets.

#7: “Watchmen” (2009)

Although Mars does not appear until late into the film, it becomes one of this superhero movie’s most significant locations. When Dr. Manhattan tires of life on Earth, he travels to the barren planet to be alone. Once there, he builds an impressive glass clock-like structure out of the Martian rock, as seen in one of “Watchmen”’s coolest sequences. Eventually, Manhattan brings the only person he still feels a connection with to his place of solitude. Their discussions directly influence the conclusion of the crime action drama, while also summarizing its themes and overall message.

#6: “The War of the Worlds” (1953)

One of the most iconic films from the alien invasion craze of the fifties, ”The War of the Worlds” chronicles invaders from Mars crash-landing and terrorizing Sothern California. The film stands out because of its compelling story based on H.G. Wells’ novel, along with its unique and impressive sound and visuals. The science fiction flick avoided using the typical flying saucers of the time and instead portrayed the alien vehicles as invulnerable tripods. Thanks to its creative and compelling story, it also became a financial and critical success, and earned an Oscar for special effects.

#5: “Red Planet” (2000)

This sci-fi thriller takes place in the not-too-distant future and follows a crew of scientists as they investigate problems plaguing a Martian terraforming project. Once on Mars, the team is faced with strange circumstances and life-threatening situations. Reminiscent of many of the Mars films of the past, “Red Planet” is filled with things like pseudo-science, an outer space storm, and a robotic sidekick. Like those films, the plot revolves around the scientists piecing together the clues to solve a bizarre mystery, but as a larger whole the movie demonstrates how scary science can be.

#4: “John Carter” (2012)

Pixar director Andrew Stanton makes his live action debut with this underrated sci-fi epic. Unlike many of the other films on this list, ”John Carter” foregoes any notions of scientific accuracy and instead stays true to its century-old pulp fiction source material. The adventure movie gives audiences amazing special effects, impressive action sequences, and a complex storyline involving warring Martians and all-powerful manipulators. In addition to its stunning visuals, the film successfully manages to blend a number of genres, including science fiction, action adventure, western and fantasy and found particular success in Europe and Asia.

#3: “Mission to Mars” (2000)

Despite sharing its title with a Disneyland ride, “Mission to Mars” is less about action and thrills than it is about exploration, mystery and the universe. The film touches on many common science fiction themes, including isolation and our search for where we came from. Director Brian de Palma populates the movie with a memorable cast of characters, played by the likes of Gary Sinise and Don Cheadle, while providing hauntingly beautiful visuals of space travel and the Martian landscape.

#2: “Mars Attacks!” (1996)

This Tim Burton-directed flick brings together an impressive cast, including Jack Nicholson, Natalie Portman, and Pierce Brosnan, to name only a few in a mid-‘90s movie that parodies the campy alien invasion films from the ‘50s. Filled with over the top violence and classic Burton shtick, “Mars Attacks!” has both poignant political commentary and cheesy looking aliens. It was also nominated for several Saturn Awards and features a climactic battle between humans and Martians.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” (1964)
- “Mission Mars” (1968)
- “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (1964)
- “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie” (2001)

#1: “Total Recall” (1990)

Without a doubt, this is the definitive Mars movie. Like many of Paul Verhoeven’s films, on the surface “Total Recall” seems to be just another sci-fi flick filled with violence and nudity; but underneath, the movie has a number of underlying philosophical themes. It follows a man whose disturbing dreams about Mars compel him to undergo a memory implant procedure, and eventually he lands on the red planet. But what makes the action movie so great is how it gives us multiple hints throughout that what is taking place may not be real. The course of events consistently causes the lead character, as well as the audience, to question if anything that has happened is true or merely a delusion.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Martian movie? For more stellar Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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