It's a Spirit Thing
On Mars in the year 2176 AD, Lieutenant Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) and her Martian police unit are sent to a remote mining community where the dangerous Desolation Williams (Ice Cube) is known to be. When they reach there they find discover that the mining facility appears to be abandoned except in the recreational facility there are a mass of dead bodies whilst Williams is discovered in the community's jail. It soon becomes clear that the jail may be the safest place to be as they come under attack by what appears to be possessed minors.
After writer/director John Carpenter made "Ghosts of Mars" he reportedly declared that he was leaving Hollywood for good, he didn't as 9 years later he directed again but he admitted he had become burnout. The thing is that watching "Ghosts of Mars" it is pretty obvious that this is a case with a storyline which feels little more than a rehash of an earlier work but set in a different time and place. In fact there are various things in "Ghosts of Mars" that if you have watched any of Carpenter's other famous movies will seem a little too familiar. And sadly the familiarity of "Ghosts of Mars" works against it in a major way because you end up feeling cheated by its lack of originality.
But it is not just the writing which is the issue with "Ghosts of Mars" as this whole futuristic setting is not in the least bit convincing and at times makes me thing that maybe this was shot in the basement of some hospital amongst all the pipes and generators and then in a car park for exterior shots. The ineffectiveness of the look combined with the familiarity of the story makes it almost pointless especially when the dialogue also seems to have been created out of cliches. But the worst writing offence is to start the movie at point X and then tell what happened in flashback because it really makes it pointless.
Now not everything which is wrong with "Ghosts of Mars" can be put down to John Carpenter as at the last minute leading lady Courtney Love had to be replaced due to injury and Natasha Henstridge who arrived at the last minute having just done 2 movies back to back was exhausted leading to production being halted for a week due to Henstridge become ill. But all the acting feels as false as the sets and none of the actors really gel with Ice Cube coming across as pissed off the entire time and seems to be forcing his characters attitude and gung ho tendencies.
What this all boils down to is that "Ghosts of Mars" is weak and not what you expect from a John Carpenter movie as to put it bluntly everyone seems to only be going through the motions.