2 – Mission to Mars

From the cinematic mind of Brian De Palma (Mission: Impossible), who made a name for himself 20 years ago by paying homage to Alfred Hitchcock, comes this sci-fi thriller about a rescue mission to the Red Planet. If you’re not into heavy science fiction, don’t worry. There’s a good reason this thing’s rated PG, and it’s not just for a lack of violence and naughty language. While 2001: A Space Odyssey was cerebral, Mission to Mars is a little like that movie’s sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, in that there’s no overwhelming mysticism that can only be dealt with through the use of non-prescription drugs. Don’t get me wrong, 2001 was a magnificent movie, but I’ve always suspected that being in tune with an alternate reality was the best way to view it.

Mission to Mars is about the journey of the second such undertaking to Mars. Its mission: find out what happened to the first mission. Sounds a little like 2010 there, too. Tim Robbins is the commander, and all his team has to go on is a last-minute transmission by the last mission’s commander, Don Cheadle. Luckily, we in the audience see what’s happened: The first team, on one of those standard reconnaissance, rock-finding, fact-finding tours, finds a big rock that uses a tornado to shoot lots and lots of little rocks at them. And that’s pretty much all we know till the Robbins crew shows up.

I’m not going to delve any deeper into this plotline, because it’s not as complex as all that. Because we know so very little about space and its floating inhabitants, much is left to the imagination of the screenwriter, who in turn uses that lack of knowledge into a mysterious aura. Somehow, everything has to MEAN something in a space movie.

The acting is fine, but nothing to speak of. Hey, you’re not looking at sci-fi for acting, are you? Robbins is earnest, but he’s unfortunately miscast. He sometimes looks like he’s straining to get the lines out, trying to squeeze every last drop of emotion out of it. Sadly, he fails. Sinise is.. Well, he’s Gary Sinise. He’s convincing, he’s believable, and he’s ultimately the best character in the movie. The rest of the cast is able, but not terribly noteworthy, except for two possible exceptions. Don Cheadle (the commander from the first mission) is very good, showing even more promise than his earlier work in Volcano and Devil in a Blue Dress. And the eminent German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl is solid as their ground-control commander.

All in all, well done, and worth a look in the theater. I wouldn’t recommend waiting for video, because the effects are definitely best appreciated on the big screen.

PRO: Effects, effects, effects. Plus some good suspense, too.

CON: Pretentious storyline, some miscasting.

Mission to Mars: 7.5 (out of 10)


2 Responses to “2 – Mission to Mars”

  1. Jamie Says:

    Just searching on google and found your site. It was ranked fairly high on google to. Anyway just looking around to see why.

  2. frothy Says:

    Well, I’d be interested in why, too! Thanks for stopping by.

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