Mars, the final frontier. These are the voyages of Mission to Mars, a doomed thriller pretending to be a science fiction movie. But seriously now, how can a movie starring Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, and Don motherfucking Cheadle be bad? And it’s directed by none other than Brian De Palma of his Scarface and Carlito’s Way fame. The short answer is it can’t. Using a lot of elements from the sci-fi classics but mostly relying on Kubrick, this is a derivative movie with a strange atmosphere. It’s almost as if you’re watching a regular drama only unfolding in space. I think that Sunshine is the best example of what they were going for. However, I should warn you that they missed the mark quite a lot.
If you’re familiar with the type of movies that Rabbit Reviews recommends, you’ll know that science fiction movies always get special treatment here. And this is the case with Mission to Mars. I just can’t help myself when I see people blasting into space and landing on distant planets. And after just ten minutes we will be following a lonely rover on the surface of Mars. Does it get any better than that? Well, apparently it does as we can now follow the fucking Twitter account of the Curiosity rover exploring that very surface for real! Anywhoo, I think you already know that the visuals in this movie are going to be great. The special effects were believable and you won’t see that shoddy early 00s CGI here. Actually, come to think about it, there are some truly impressive scenes here and I’m not going to spoil them for you.
It is the year of our lord 2020 and humanity is finally on the brink of Mars colonization. A science vessel, after much trouble, is finally gathering information about the possible sites for settlements when tragedy strikes. Earth immediately preps a backup vessel and sends it on its way to find and help our fellow Marsians…
When it comes to the main story, Mission to Mars reminded me of a couple of late eighties/early nineties movies. Above all, Moontrap and The Dark Side Of The Moon, although Spanish indie gem Stranded is also somewhat similar. When it comes to the characters, they are a mishmash of your usual astronaut suspects from the nineties. There were so many movies with people either going to space or trying to prevent something from space coming to Earth that it was fairly easy to make an amalgam of them.
I know that it might seem that I’m too hard on this movie because it’s actually quite decent. The pacing is good and things kick off fairly early on. And exactly because they set the stage for something grand and then finished the movie with an underwhelming last twenty minutes I have to bitch and moan. On the other hand, if you’re looking to have some space-themed fun, Mission to Mars will do just fine. I wonder what type of movie would this be if Gore Verbinski remained at the helm. After the budget was expanded, De Palma got interested and Gore was subsequently kicked off the project.
Finally, I just want to say something about this new space race between these rich assholes. Ahh, forget it, you already know what I’m going to rant about. So, a simple fuck them, their space race and all the resources they stole from the people to play spaceman.
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Lowell Cannon, Jim Thomas, John Thomas
Cast: Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Kim Delaney, Elise Neal, Kavan Smith
Fun Facts: Each one of the space suits cost around $100,000 to make. A real NASA space suit costs between $10-$12 million.