Mars Express – In 2200, private detective Aline Ruby and her android partner Carlos are hired to track down a notorious hacker on Mars. Murder, corruption, and brain farms are only part of what they find.

The animated neo-noir scifi is from first-time director Jérémie Perin, and was an official selection of both the Cannes and Annecy film festivals.A 2D/3D hybrid, Mars Express was domestically released in France this past November to rave reviews. Viewers and critics praised the animation, acting, and world building. Gkids (distributor of Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron) picked up the film for North American distribution starting May 3rd, 2024. GKidis also produced the English version.

The cast includes:

  • Léa Drucker — Aline Ruby
  • Mathieu Amalric — Chris Royjacker
  • Daniel Njo Lobé — Carlos Rivera
  • Neil Kaplan — Vlasek

Variety says: Mars Express mixes mature themes with anime influences in a noirish sci-fi thriller. An uncommon spin on modern anxieties — particularly when it comes to AI. It serves a heady pop-culture cocktail, mixing hard-boiled fiction with science-fantasy comix, riffing on Philip Marlow and Philip K. Dick (with winks to Watchmen and Robocop and oh so many more) with a mystery yarn that places humans and cyborgs on equal footing.”

Director Perin says: “Our desire is to give back to the audience the cosmic and existential dizziness given by the
classics of the genre, such as Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey or Robocop.”

Mars Express released theatrically in France on 22 November 2023 by Gebeka Films. GKIDS acquired the film’s North American rights and will release it on May 3, 2024 in the U.S. with both its original French language and an English dub.

Three laws of Robotics

The film also utilizes Isaac Asimov’s famous Laws (called “cybernetic injunction” in Express):

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The laws were made for a 1942 Asimov short story Runaround, in which a robot goes renegade trying to balance the importance of its orders against the importance of its own self preservation. The Three Laws played a dramatic importance in Asimov’s first detective novel, The Caves of Steel. The now famous laws ruled the behavior of robot detective R. Daneel Olivaw as he worked with his human partner Elijah Bailey.

There is a Real Mars Express

Interestingly, there is a real-world NASA mission also called Mars Express. It arrived at the Red Planet in 2003, and has been doing detailed science on its atmosphere, surface and subserface, as well as its two moons, Phobos and Deimos.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.