Mission To Mars

Review Date:
Director: Brian DePalma
Writer: L. Cannon, J. Thomas, John Thomas
Producers: Tom Jacobson
Gary Sinise as Jim McConnell, Don Cheadle as Luc Goddard, Tim Robbins as Woody Blake, Jerry O’Connell as Phil Ohlmyer
A rescue crew of astronauts is sent down to Mars in the year 2020, after an unknown energy force leads to a loss of contact with the previous gang of space aviators to visit the red planet.
Extremely underwhelming is the best way to describe this movie. Uneven, would be another. The trailer for this movie actually showed some promise, the buzz around it had been so-so, and even the film itself starts off with a decent first twenty minutes, all leading you to believe that it’s actually going to go “somewhere”. But it isn’t long before the entire movie downshifts into neutral, features more space walks than anything interesting on the cherry-colored planet, tries too hard to get us into the “pain” of some its characters and unsuccessfully tosses some romance into the mix. In a sci-fi movie? Well, I don’t know, much of it just seemed like a bunch of nerdies talking techie jargon for about an hour and a half, only to figure out some big secret in the end, a secret which practically had me yawning with excitement. Ultimately, this is a movie that starts off with a decent premise, joins the crew in their “misadventures in space” for the main crux of its journey, and eventually settles down for one of the most anti-climactic endings this side of CONTACT. Mind you, if you enjoyed that film’s shrug-of-the-shoulders ending, you might just enjoy this frivolous ditty as well. Of course, I don’t remember CONTACT having such obvious and painfully distracting computer generated effects at its end of story. Ugh. What a friggin’ mess.

Films like this generally get me wondering about the brass in Hollywood again. Didn’t anybody recognize the crappiness in this script? Didn’t they read the bad dialogue, the cheezy lines, the obvious derivative nature of the work (Mind you, with a director like DePalma at the helm, that ain’t saying much!). Of course, you can’t really blame the brass for the inclusion of Jerry O’Connell in this fine crew of thespians. ‘Nuff said. Neither can you blame them for DePalma cranking up the juice on the film’s musical score during the last fifteen minutes, presumably in order to wake the audience up (Okay, we get it Brian, this scene is supposed to be powerful…wow…yawn…my ears hurt!). So is anything salvageable in this movie? Sure. Gary Sinise does another great job, as does Cheadle, the film doesn’t completely bore you as much as it just moves along slowly without anything really interesting happening, and yes, the “sand-twister” effect that you see in the commercial is well done. Other than that? I guess I could say that I admire how filmmakers have become so much more devious in their product placement strategies…oops, did I say “admire”, I meant “am disgusted”! All in all, this movie delivers very little in actual substance, offers two-bit dialogue masked in a lot of sci-fi mumbo-jumbo, pretends to be deep when really it’s just sappy, and eventually just settles into an ending which, other than presenting us with a pathetic computer graphic as a part of the story, gives us little more to think about than how we might be able to get our money back for sitting through this rehashed dreck. Go see THE NINTH GATE (8/10)…now there’s a great movie!

And on a personal note, I think it’s time for DePalma to stop worrying so much about his proverbial 12-minute uninterrupted film sequences, and start worrying more about how crappy his movies are getting.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Mission to Mars