Mission to MarsMarch 10, 2000
When the first manned mission to Mars meets with a catastrophic and mysterious disaster, a rescue mission is launched to investigate the tragedy and bring back any survivors.
Release Year: 2000
Rating: 5.3/10 (38,479 voted)
Critic's Score: 34/100
Brian De Palma
Stars: Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, Don Cheadle
When a mysterious storm kills all but one crew member of the first manned mission to mars, a rescue mission is launched. Once on the red planet, the crew finds the sole survivor of the first mission who informs them that this was no ordinary storm. It was meant to protect something. But what?
Writers: Lowell Cannon, Jim Thomas
Robert Bailey Jr.
Let There Be Life.
Cinopsis [Belgium] (French) |
Release Date: 10 March 2000
Filming Locations: Jordan
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $22,855,247
(12 March 2000)
(16 July 2000)
Did You Know?
The communication viewscreen on Mars Recovery was built by Silicon Graphics (hence the abbreviation logo of SGI).
The walls of the tent should be fully inflated by the much higher pressure inside, compared to the low atmospheric pressure of Mars.
There's pressure in here.
Above Mars atmospheric? That's impossible.
We're millions of miles from Earth inside a giant white face. What's impossible?
A difficult derivative sci-fi film
After a second viewing, I can say that I am still not sure what to make
of this film. Many will see this as something of a remake of 2001. And
yes, the film is visually almost plagiaristic of the Kubrick
masterpiece. The two biggest problems are a lack in originality and
thoughtfulness. From my rating, you can see that I did not despise this
film. It's visually nice, and the performances are all good. However, I
am not sure I can recommend it.
I'm a sci-fi fan, and a scientist, so I was initially intrigued by the
notion of a big-name dramatic film-maker doing a sci fi epic, which
appeared, at least initially, to be hardcore sci-fi. By hardcore
sci-fi, I mean fiction based on scientific reality, not fantasy with a
tiny bit of science thrown in for decoration. An example, also using
Mars as a vehicle, is Ben Bova's novel "Mars" – which focuses on the
very edge of plausibility, only occasionally overstepping the bounds of
scientific possibility. Film has rarely achieved this – a few
interesting exceptions are Alien (the original), Outland and Silent
Running. Hardcore sci-fi, which, I argue, this film could and should
have been, is careful about that boundary. And 3/4ths of the way
through Mission to Mars, it's still a hardcore sci-fi flick. Then
suddenly, it's something else. I will leave that something else for you
to discover, and stay focused on what the director and screenwriter
were trying to do here.
What we have here is not really a single plot, but a pastiche of plots
that have been strung together into one long, mysterious and grandiose
story line. The film starts out with a couple of scenes which might
have been lost in Appollo 13 – providing a little bit of character
development and letting us know that we are about to witness the first
manned space flight to Mars. That flight ends pretty quickly, as
virtually everything goes wrong. And as a rescue mission begins, the
question then becomes, why is everything going wrong? Up to the point
where the rescue mission enters Martian orbit, this central question is
sustained and developed skillfully, but then , in my opinion, things
start to go wrong with the film itself.
There are major problems with what could have been the best aspects of
this film. The spaceships are remarkably flimsy and poorly designed,
but they look great! The safety protocols for the mission, about which
we hear so much, are either not followed or incredibly naive. The
heroes are not particularly clever about heroism, and seem to forget,
at times, what the actual possibilities are for mobility in space (why
not use the tether three times – twice out to Woody and once to get
back after you run out of fuel, Terry?). The guy who authored the
safety protocols does not appear particularly concerned with safety, or
even protocols. The evolutionary biologist on the crew is amazingly
poorly informed about the Paleozoic period of earth history and the
evolution of species. I could go on.
The film is broadly derivative of 2001 A Space Oddyssey, The Abyss,
Star Gate, Event Horizon, Fifth Element, Contact, and a few dozen other
somewhat entertaining but not particularly believable space / sci-fi
adventures, but while it resembles, and in fact pays homage to these
films (especially 2001), it never entertains quite as well. Why?
Because these films do not pretend to be based on scientific ideas, but
rather, aesthetics and humanism. While most of these films invite
interpretation, Mission to Mars simply repeats ideas from previous
films and doesn't even bother to recast them into an interesting new
light. Mission to Mars is something that has been done many times
before, and in more interesting, entertaining, and thought-provoking
Technical proficiency, which is something this film exudes, is no
substitute for a compelling story and interesting individual
characters. Unfortunately, even in terms of technique, the film has
some flaws. Some will disagree, but I found the soundtrack irritating,
and the pace of the film very uneven to say the least. And the
characters lives are so intertwined in the few character development
sequences that only Sinise, Robbins and Bennings' characters develop
Despite his reputation, I can not hold Brian De Palma up to standards
which are different than those of other film-makers, and I can not
condone creating a special vocabulary or a sophisticated argument to
permit interpretation of his films as part of some over-arching theme
which only he and a few of his fans understand. There is a fine line
between flattering imitation and shameless copying, so I'd rather not
get into an extrapolated meta-film discussion of this film's
relationship to 2001. I don't think this film is worthy of such a
There are some truly great moments in Mission to Mars. This should not
be too surprising with the wonderful cast, big budget, and talented
production team. What did surprise me about this film was the 2001-like
180 degree turn it took off of the map of scientific possibility 3/4ths
of the way through the film, and I can't say that turn and its outcome
really impressed me.
If you're a sci-fi fan, or somebody with a very casual interest in
science, you should probably see this. But if you haven't seen 2001
first, by all means, wait until you have. And don't take this one too
seriously when you do get around to it. This has much more to do with
fiction than science fiction.