Mission to Mars


Do a little dance: The crew has a bit of zero-G disco time on their long journey from Earth to Mars (O'Connell, Robbins, Nielsen).
dir Brian DePalma
scr Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Graham Yost
with Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O'Connell, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Peter Outerbridge, Kavan Smith, Jill Teed, Elise Neal, Kim Delaney, Robert Bailey Jr
Touchstone 00/US 1 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Oh dear, what happened here? Mission to Mars has a very talented, intelligent cast and crew that worked long and hard to make this film--gifted actors and arguably one of the most talented directors alive. But where the script should be there is instead a black hole sucking the life out of the film and everyone connected with it.

There's not one aspect of the story that isn't formulaic and contrived. As NASA prepares for the Mars One mission, top astronaut Jim McConnell (Sinise) must stay behind due to the death of his dearly beloved wife (Delaney in flashbacks) and co-captain ... and the personal breakdown that followed. In his place is best bud Luke (Cheadle), who when he gets to Mars makes a startling discovery that kills off his crew. So, naturally, McConnell mounts a Mars Two rescue mission along with another husband-wife team (Robbins and Nielsen) and a hot-shot techie (O'Connor). But they encounters big trouble as well just getting to the Red Planet ... not to mention what they find when they land.

The breathtaking triteness of it all belittles any attempts by the cast or crew to breathe life into the film. DePalma is certainly up to the challenge of the genre; his amazing visual style (borrowing heavily from 2001) keeps things watchable and just a bit different than your run-of-the-mill sci-fi. The effects are startlingly good on every level (the sound design is especially impressive). And the cast tries valiantly to speak the lame dialog with conviction. But as the story progresses, the script continually proves its unoriginality with a story lifted plainly from 2001, Close Encounters and even The X-Files. And then it gets even worse--maudlin, sentimental and just plain stupid. Was this a rushed job or a major botch? Either way it's utterly ghastly.

[PG--violence, suspense, themes] 11.Apr.00
US release 10.Mar.00; UK release 14.Apr.00

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READER REVIEWS

let there be life "As far as I could tell, this was a film with a few good ideas; an imaginative take on the 'Life on Mars' theory, and not much else. There was a good strong cast, but the film was ridiculously episodic, making it seem like a TV series stitched together badly. The ending was a damp squib. This was a real disappointment - not even really worth the ticket cost." --Jo C, West Sussex.

"I absolutely loved this movie. With a great director and a superb cast, works on many levels, whether as an adventure film with a lot of suspense or a sci-fi film with profound and awe-inspiring ideas. Add to that a beautiful musical score from Ennio Morricone and you've got a must see sci-fi adventure. This is far better than ." --JiangLiQingS Shen, net 2.Feb.01.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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