Surprising many fans, the Flaming Lips’ long-awaited sci-fi movie, “Christmas on Mars,” proves less flashy and flamboyant than the alternative rock band’s psychedelic concerts. Furthermore, the only song sampled is a few wavering bars of “Silent Night.” But this mostly black-and-white, dreamlike yuletide fable does possess its own dorky DIY charm, as space-suited men wander around narrow enclosures in various stages of dissociation, Santas commit airlock suicide and a nurse/mother in a giant lightbulb births a bubble baby. Charting its own release orbit, pic has played non-traditional venues at unconventional hours following a Sept. 12 launch.
Unlike 1980’s Oingo Boingo-related underground cult classic, “Forbidden Zone” where the id and wacky free-association reigned supreme, “Mars” subsists on dinky minimalism and scraps of outworn rituals. On Christmas Eve, morale is low, as is the oxygen supply on a two-bit Martian outpost. Anger and melancholia reverberate between dilapidated white walls, and many, like sad-sack hero Syrtis (the Lips’ Steven Drozd), have hallucinations of dead babies. But an alien with antennae (director Wayne Coyne, the Lips’ frontman) emerges from the light, dons a Santa suit, and saves the colony as A Child Is Born.