Does anyone realize?!?!

As a gestation period, its been nothing like ‘Chinese Democracy’ but there must be plenty of people around who never thought they would see the day that ‘Christmas On Mars’ by The Flaming Lips would be released. One of the major reasons for this has been the open way that Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has discussed the film and talked about it over the years, building up an almost mythical legend around the film. In all reality, rock stars don’t always make the best film stars so it was more with hope (and The Flaming Lips give you hope and optimism like few bands can) than any genuine expectations that this film was viewed.

It’s quite an arty film and the opening ten minutes will leave you pondering if nothing is supposed to be happening or if it is a deliberate slow build-up. If you are more acquainted with box office smash hits than arty or world cinema means nothing to you, the pace of ‘Christmas On Mars’ may put you off from the start. Its not a film made by professional film makers, its clearly a labour of love for those involved and some of the conversations don’t work as smoothly as you would expect in a film but what it loses in professionalism, it gains in a level of reality and genuine-ness.

The film manages to reign in a lot of the ideals that The Flaming Lips try to bring across in their music and if you have seen any of their live shows in recent years, you should have a head start in trying to capture the flow or feel of the film. Setting the film on Mars and bringing in aspects of a whole new start and pairing off the usual foes of science and religion all fit neatly into the bands message that even though we are massively important, in the greater scheme of things we are all small players and we should do everything we can to have the best time possible, in ourselves and with others. It is a fairly positive method and by aligning it to Christmas, the one time of year when hopefully people can put aside their cynicism or mistrust, the film goes a long way to crystallising the ethos of the band.

It doesn’t live up to the music and message of the band but it was never likely to, The Flaming Lips have been making music for decades and have honed their craft very successfully and it would be unreasonable to believe they could achieve the same with their first major film release.

Musically, the song relies on the bands electronic and experimental styles as opposed to their commercial hits but when you consider the band have won Grammys for their instrumental passages, this is no bad thing and the music accompanies the film perfectly. It’s pretty hard to adequately sum up the film and its true to say that even ardent Flaming Lips fans (which this reviewer is unashamedly) wont be rushing to watch this film repeatedly. Theres some strong language and some of the psychedelic flashes will not be appreciated by youngsters or those of a nervous disposition but its probably worth a rental, if only to see Wayne Coyne as The Martian, even though the “starring role” falls upon band-member Stephen Drozd as Major Syrtis.

Having no real talent as a film reviewer (heck, there's barely any talent as a music critic) its difficult to sum the film up for others but as much of that may be due to the fact that the film takes an awful long time to really get going and even when it does, its far from clear cut. It’s good that the band finally released their opus film and hopefully it will be well received but you can guarantee that many people will be hoping for the act to get back to concentrating on making music.