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It’s 2020 and man is finally going to Mars. There’s Mission Commander Luke Graham (Don Cheadle) and his NASA buddies Jim McConnell (Gary Sinise), whose astronaut wife recently died, Woody Blake (Tim Robbins), who’s astronaut wife Dr. Terri Fisher (Connie Nielsen) is joining them on the mission, and frat-boy scientist Phil Ohlymer (Jerry O'Connell), who makes DNA models of his perfect woman from M&Ms in zero gravity. Fast-forward eight months and Luke's preliminary team is investigating the existence of water on Mars when a catastrophic cyclone of red dust obliterates everyone but Luke himself. Jim now leads the aforementioned team in a rescue mission to bring Luke back and, with a little luck, discover what mysteries lurk beneath the Red Planet's rocky surface.

"There are a few fabulous moments in Mission to Mars, but sadly they are just that – moments. And far too few. Brian De Palma's big budget sci-fi drama has all the promise in the world, the entire galaxy in fact, but sadly falls flat by a sluggish, fragmented first half and lets itself down by crucial elements that result in a disappointing outcome. Is the script punctuated with trite expressions or would we really resort to such language if we were stuck on Mars? Sci-fi, the genre, has fascinated us all for years: the possibilities are endless for those with fertile imaginations, coupled with the giant leaps that make technology slaves to the effect. So what went wrong? Certainly not the cast. Nor production design, or some of the special effects, which are sensational. Gary Sinise is compelling as the space hero (I always feel as though he looks in dire need of a darn good sleep), although black eyeliner and lashes detract at times. Tim Robbins is pretty bland mind you, while Connie Nielsen, fabulous in Gladiator, lacks the material with which to impress. Design and effects in the latter stages are quite amazing, and the concept that slings a new slant on the big bang theory is fascinating. Gross miscalculation on the part of the filmmakers in the realisation of the alien – a sad cross between ET, the creature in Mars Attacks and the curvaceous Jessica Rabbit – makes farcical what could otherwise be a very moving climactic moment. The welcome touches of humour are too infrequent, while the music varies from being totally annoying to richly sublime. I suppose when we are talking about a distance of 100 million miles, it is not so unexpected that the pendulum swings so wildly."
Louise Keller

"Mission to Mars seems to have two ambitions: it achieves the first - to offer a spectacular view of space travel that generates the sense of awe inspired by the late Kubrick's 2001 Odyssey - but fails in the second - to create a credible scenario exploring who we are on planet earth and where did we come from. And its failure is not in what, but in how. It could have been a contender, if only the script had the time and money spent on it that went into polishing everything else. And there are other probs: the alien figure in the final reel is a caricature alien that would work well in a pseudo-serious comedy (in say, Galaxy Quest) but is a mistake here. The fact that it's a technically well created mistake is no consolation. Anyway, by the time this apparition is revealed to us, we have already discarded our faith in the movie's mission, and turned hostile to its charms. The predictability of the plot line and the often wooden dialogue (not just for Tim Robbins' Woody character) starts to drag from the start. A little more invention could have spared us the interminable and predictable pre-launch barbecue, a sodden mess dramatically speaking, where the set ups are so transparent and trite that we fail to make it to the countdown. This mission does not take off the pad, despite some fine work in production design, music, VFX, SFX, CGI . . . It's like a grand gesture that by its misjudgement turns into a mere wave."
Andrew L. Urban

"Mission To Mars is a film I would have loved - given a little more originality. Brian De Palma is a legend of gritty crime thrillers like Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way and Snake Eyes. De Palma’s penchant for twists and turns has no place in the formula blockbuster, and his foray into sci-fi is stifled by the backhand of Hollywood. The characters the team of co-writers sketch are nice, handsome, honourable, and full of utopian American can-do to the point that they become nondescript and boring. The writers have also failed to give Mission To Mars any moments of true suspense. The cyclone sequence is quite breathtaking, but it’s just an example of how the effects are the stars. There should be rules preventing great character-actors like Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise and Don Cheadle starring in these types of films, for special effects will always be the biggest star. The worst crime this film commits is its shameless borrowing from all the good and great sci-fi movies. There’s waltzing spaceship pilfered from 2001 (Strauss’s Blue Danube is sacrificed to Rock’n’Roll), and the HAL-like computer voice. There’s the New Age paperweight philosophy from Contact, with all its precious lessons about the connections of human existence. In Apollo 13, Gary Sinise had to watch Tom Hanks and Co jet off into space without him, while in Mission to Mars he's again left watching over his friends until it all goes wrong – again! The final epiphany is so close to that in Close Encounters of the Third Kind that Spielberg could sue. This otherwise promising sci-fi boasts spectacular visual imagery, with the scenes on the Red Planet looking as if they were filmed on location. Enjoyable entertainment before inspirational cinema, Mission To Mars is best described as good-looking regurgitation."
Shannon J Harvey

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CAST: Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nelson, Jerry O’Connell, Kim Delaney, Elise Neal, Peter Outerbridge, Jill Teed, Kavan Smith

DIRECTOR: Brian De Palma

PRODUCER: Tom Jacobson, David S. Goyer, Justis Greene

SCRIPT: Lowell Cannon, Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Graham Yost


EDITOR: Paul Hirsch

MUSIC: Ennio Morricone





VIDEO RELEASE: October 4, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

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