"This is wrong, Doctor! I don't care who you are! The Time Lord victorious is wrong!" - Adelaide Brooke
The Doctor lands on Mars in the year 2059 and decides to take a stroll on the red planet. He discovers a human base but is captured by a robot sentry. The base is under the command of the legendary Adelaide Brooke and is the first human colony on another planet. Unfortunately the Doctor soon finds himself in a dilemma, the base and its crew are destined to die in mysterious circumstances, but he can't intervene as this is a fixed point in time and must happen. Adelaide's death will lead to her granddaughter piloting the first human faster than light space craft that will propel the human race into the Galaxy.
And wouldn't you know it for want of a decent filter the colony is being infected by a virus, named the flood, that turns humans into zombie like creatures that live to spread the disease. The water naturally came from an underground frozen lake that the Doctor deduces may have led to the Ice Warriors abandoning the planet. With the virus spreading the Doctor is torn between getting out of Dodge and leaving everyone to their fates, or intervening and saving the survivors, naturally he chooses the later, but it doesn't quite pan out as he may have hoped!
Been a while since I had time to cut a review, hey editing takes some time kids, so what better movie to focus on than a Doctor Who tellie effort. Okay before actually getting down in the trenches let's ponder whether or not we have a horror movie on our hands, a notion we'll be boring people with in 2017, what makes a horror movie a horror movie? Who leads Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner were for sure concerned about the horror content and its impact on impressionable youth watching the show. You needn't have bothered guys, besides local rags trying to make it all controversial, there's very little content in the show that will send kids screaming into the night. For sure younger audiences have seen a hell of a lot worse in shows like Supernatural and Salem, storm in a teacup time folks. But the movie does contain horror elements wrapped in Sci-Fi trappings. We have mock Zombies in the form of the infected waterlogged monsters, the concept of a siege - something horror spends an inordinate amount of time on, and a diminishing band of survivors faced with something they can't explain and which they have no power to defeat. So yeah Waters of Mars is certainly landing in horror land, but with a huge degree of Sci-Fi explanation thrown in. Horror simply says the monsters are real, Sci-Fi by and large tries to apply a somewhat logical explanation for them. Anyways the main thing to take from this is Russell T. Davies comes across as a complete twat on the disc extras, something Whovian fans Downunder have suspected for quite some time.
So to the movie itself, yes it is clearly television fare, yes it has very little in the way of action, but by heck I enjoyed every last minute of its runtime. If you like Doctor Who, and who doesn't - well could mention a few people, then this is must see stuff kids. David Tennant is at his manically best as the Doctor, and turns in one heck of a performance. Tennant brings across the Doctor's unwillingness to get involved with changing a fixed point time, his then decision that to hell with it he is the last Time Lord therefore he makes the rules, to his final realisation that time will heal itself, fixed points in time cannot be changed, though a couple of crew members who should have died fled into a wintery London evening in the penultimate scene. Tennant is masterful in the role and for mine is the best Doctor since Tom Baker kept the then ailing franchise alive through the mid to late 1970s.
Ably supporting Tennant is Lindsay Duncan (Adelaide Brooke) who dominates some scenes even with the ever manic Tennant going full thunder Doctor style. Duncan presents a stern leader, who keeps her motley mixed crew of scientists on the straight and narrow, no easy task given some of the characters she is dealing with. In a flashback scene we learn Adelaide as a young girl came face to stalk with a Dalek, the Dalek didn't go all exterminate exterminate which the Doctor surmises is due to it realising Adelaide needs to live to the fix point in time they are now at. How fixed points in time work is fumbled to be honest, there's sort of a limp explanation then it's dropped. Anyways, and moving on, Adelaide becomes more of a believer in fixed points than the Doctor, she will ultimately make a decision that ensures time flows as expected, which is more than the Doctor was prepared to do.
The crux of the movie is the Doctor's weighing of his options, does he leave the mars colony to its fate, knowing it has to happen for time to flow correctly, or does he intervene, save who ever survives and change the course of History? His decision and ultimate defeat is going to change the course of David Tennant's last season as the Doctor. Tennant's Doctor has overall been a tragic figure in my opinion, he has to do what he has to do, and he loses companions along the way. This Doctor feels every death, every wrong decision, but keeps on trying.
Yes I know you are all wondering how well the Beep managed to portray Mars, well not as well as the Yanks with The Martian, but well enough for television. Primary shooting took place in an abandoned Welsh mine, the perfect back drop for the Red Planet for mine, tehehe. Some computer effects later and its looking pretty cool, though they do keep focus tightly on a small area to avoid I guess having to do some epic pan shoots. I could readily believe we were on Mars, end of day that's all that matters, Doctor Who tends to be character driven at the best of times, we didn't need to take in the local scenery folks. The Martian Base, namely amusingly Bowie Base One, is well realised, the Producers were after a NASA look to things and achieved their goal, with even logos on everything in the background, a real feeling that the designers weren't missing a beat.
For mine the Flood was one of the lesser thought out designs for a monster the Doctor has faced. Okay I know they were going for scary but to be honest creature design here is more likely to elicit laughs than shivers, the monsters look pretty dopey to be honest. The concept of water however is used to startlingly good effect. Something we are all used to, actual have a bottle of water next to the computer while I write this, that is ramped up to a sinister element. Not even a drop as Adelaide points out, one of life's basic requirements biting humanity on the arse, excellent stuff.
My major disappointment with the movie was we never got to see what was actually in the ice. Toward the end of the movie the monsters were clearly trying to raise something to the surface of the frozen lake, but whatever is down there never rears its ugly head. I guess they may be keeping this secret up their sleeves for a future episode, fingers crossed; anything that could drive the Ice Warriors from their planet is well worth spending some time with.
Hey managed to review a movie without turning the actual review into high farce, I'm calling that a win, which is pretty much how I also felt after watching The Waters of Mars. Russell T. Davies tries to insert some humour into the ebb and flow but to be honest he's pretty crap at comedy and it comes off as meaningless in the wash up. For horror fans there are definitely elements here that will get your motor running, but not even na´ve kids are going to really find this one sleep depriving. End of day if you are a Whovian then this is going to be a must watch feature, for the rest of the planet let the waters wash over you, worth a look if after some light entertainment with a dark and philosophical switch turned on. There's enough action and human courage to keep you entertained, recommended kids, if you want to know what the fuzz is about the Doctor then this movie might just have you clambering for more.