Terra Fomars (2016) by Takashi Miike

Director: Takashi Miike
Year: 2016
Country: Japan
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Space Opera; Science Fiction

With the planet about to be overpopulated, a crew of scientists and various fugitives are sent to Mars in order to evaluate the earlier plans in the first stages to a terraforming project on the planet. Told to help in the extermination of the cockroaches used in the initial project, they find that the insects have instead mutated into gigantic, humanoid beings living on Mars and are quite vicious in their treatment of the crew putting their mission in jeopardy. When they finally realize what the purpose of their mission is for, they prepare to utilize their skills in order to try to get off the planet alive.


For the most part, this was a decent enough sci-fi/action effort. What really helps is the incredibly fun backstory that results in their appearance on the planet. The idea of putting plants and vegetation on Mars to introduce a new habitat that humanity can live there serves this one well, and with the sci-fi heavy setup here providing plenty of fine features for the spaceship and body armor, there's plenty of great work here on this part of the film. The inclusion of their ability to transform into insects just like the regular creatures are is also rather fun and the change for each character into a specific insect sprouting specific characteristics of the bug into their own physiology has the added benefit of having some great special effects to the battle scenes by adding a cheesy element to them.

Those action scenes, in general, are one of the more enjoyable elements here. The series of encounters with the humanoid beings and the crew manages to have some exciting action within here, ranging from the first ambush that takes place where they literally stumble upon the creatures standing in the environment and are then attacked which provides this one with a strong and generally enjoyable start that carries on into the rest of the encounters within the film. These battles are quite fun as the creatures' muscular frame and intensely physical attributes are put to good use as they break into the ship and take out the crew members while they change into the insectoid mutations as they provide all the fun gore and high-intensity action needed for these kinds of efforts. These here are enough to hold this one up overall.

There are some problems. The main issue to be had here is the entire revelation about the company aware of their existence all along, a wholly cliched tactic that doesn't surprise at all and just really makes for a frustrating watch. The idea of sending them to the planet with illegal and illicit operations to fight off the creatures they know are there makes no sense and the entire reasoning for doing so is just to make the film work. The opportunity to do so is wasted with the sniveling corporate stand-in, a character no one should trust in the first place who just oozes slimy bigwig, who just overwrites the entire sequence by saying they're too stupid to realize what's going on. To allow this to carry on as the actual reasoning is a severe missed opportunity to make sense of this issue as there's not much here that makes any kind of sense.

As well, there's the overriding sense of confusion regarding their need to transform into bugs as that just doesn't seem logical. The idea of the corporation giving them a means to fight the obviously overpowering creatures as a chance to survive is somewhat disingenuous as they should want them to when they're going to die off anyway. Giving them a means of survival that would hinder their potential success at colonizing the planet seems foolish and utterly unnecessary to their plans and just makes for a troublesome final half here that focuses on them fighting the insects the entire time without any kind of story or meaning behind it. With a ludicrous series of CGI-filled battle scenes that just drag on and feature no real purpose beyond the excess gore and limb smashing at the center of it all, this is a wholly underwhelming setup and doesn't really do much for the film as a whole, managing to lower this one significantly.

Overview: ***1/2/5
One of the more enjoyable efforts in the style while it does have a few flaws present, this one has enough to like to make it enjoyable if not outstanding which is fine enough overall. Give this a shot if you're into these kinds of sci-fi efforts or curious about it through the creative side, while those not into this one due to the flaws should heed mild caution here.