Reviewed by: Brian Wolters
|Featuring:||Don Cheadle, Tim Robbins, Jerry O’Connell, Kim Delaney, Elise Neal|
|Director:||Brian De Palma|
|Producer:||Story Musgrave, Tom Jacobson|
As a science fiction fan, I especially enjoy films that deal with current or near-future explorations into space. When I first heard of “Mission to Mars”, I was excited with the possibilities of a story surrounding our first mission to the red planet. But after viewing “Mission to Mars”, I have to say that it was one of the few movies I have ever wanted to walk out from. From opening to ending, it is filled with plot holes, bad acting, even worse dialogue and illogical direction.
I was expecting a “goose bump” inducing scene showing our first landing and steps on Mars. We don’t get it. Once taken to Mars, we are introduced to a Mars rover and we then see humans are already there stumbling onto a mysterious phenomenon. (The movie really pushes the “PG” rating in a few death scenes early on.) There is almost no sense of mystery in the film and it only gets worse.
The acting is stiff and forced. While there is a collection of good actors, the dialogue is so horrendous that it elicits unintentional laughter. One character, intended to be the comic relief, ends up being laughed at not because of his humor, but because his dialogue is so bad.
The direction of “Mission to Mars” is probably the worst aspect. Despite an interesting sequence involving dancing in “zero g,” everything else unintentionally gives the impression that everyone in the film are idiots. For example, take the scene where the first crew finds the mysterious object on Mars. The wind picks up and they just stand there—not in awe or fright, but for no visible reason at all. Maybe just to be targets to die early on. One crew member shields his face from the sand. With a helmet on?
Another scene shows us a crew member that sacrifices their own self to save others. I don’t want to give it away, but the method they use is so illogical and badly directed, that you don’t know how to react. They show the scene and then give us 3-4 long shots of the dead body. This scene disturbed my wife because it was unexpected and extremely awkward. She and I both felt that it wasn’t necessary to further the film.
When we finally get to see some “aliens,” it is too late. And while that moment could have been an emotional and uplifting scene, it is instead reminiscent of “Close Encounters”, “Contact” and “The Abyss” all mixed into one.
As far as moral content, there are a few moments of bad language and some very light “sensual” moments, but nothing terribly offensive in those areas. The idea of someone killing themselves to save others sets a bad example and is not a good illustration of self-sacrifice. The film hints that Mars is the origin of life on Earth and may influence those who are not Biblically sound. Those who are easily influenced by this kind of material may want to stay away from this picture.
Overall, I can’t recommend this film because it is a disaster in screen writing and direction. There is a scene where an “alien being” sheds a tear. Being in a film like this, I don’t blame them. I give this film a D-.