If Brian De Palma directed Mission to Mars
for 10-year-olds who've never seen a science fiction film, he can be credited for crafting a marginally successful adventure. Isolated moments in this film serve the highest purpose of its genre, inspiring a sense of wonder and awe in the context of a fascinating future (specifically, the year 2020). But because most of us have seen a lot of science fiction films, it's impossible to ignore this one's derivative plot, cardboard characters, and drearily dumb dialogue. Despite an awesome and painstakingly authentic display of cool technology and dazzling special effects, Mission to Mars
is light years away from 2001: A Space Odyssey
on the scale of human intelligence.
After dispensing with a few space-jockey clichés, the movie focuses on a Mars-bound rescue mission commanded by Jim McConnell (Gary Sinise), whose team (Tim Robbins, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O'Connell) has been sent to retrieve the sole survivor (Don Cheadle) of a tragic Mars landing. During the sequence en route to Mars, De Palma's in his element with two suspenseful scenes (including a dramatic--albeit somewhat silly--space walk) that are technically impressive. But when this Mission gets to Mars, the movie grows increasingly unconvincing, finally arriving at an alien encounter that more closely resembles an astronomical CGI video game. But this is a $75 million Hollywood movie, and no amount of technical wizardry can lift the burden of a juvenile screenplay. Kudos to Sinise, his costars, and the special effects wizards for making the most of hoary material; shame on just about everyone else involved. --Jeff Shannon
From the director of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE comes the thrilling, eye-popping science fiction adventure MISSION TO MARS -- starring Gary Sinise (SNAKE EYES) and Tim Robbins (AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME). The year is 2020, and the first manned mission to Mars, commanded by Luke Graham (Don Cheadle, OUT OF SIGHT), lands safely on the red planet. But the Martian landscape harbors a bizarre and shocking secret that leads to a mysterious disaster so catastrophic, it decimates the crew. Haunted by a cryptic last message from Graham, NASA launches the Mars Recovery Mission to investigate and bring back survivors -- if there are any. Confronted with nearly insurmountable dangers, but propelled by deep friendship, the team finally lands on Mars and makes a discovery so amazing, it takes your breath away. MISSION TO MARS is an action-packed rocket ride that will enthrall you with its stunning special effects and keep you on the edge of your seat.