Mission To Mars

Subscribe to Gary Sinise alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th March 2000

Box Office Worldwide: $60.9M

Budget: $90M

Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, The Jacobson Company, Red Horizon Productions


Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 5.5 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: Gary Sinise as Jim McConnell, Tim Robbins as Woodrow 'Woody' Blake, Don Cheadle as Luke Graham, Connie Nielsen as Terri Fisher, Jerry O'Connell as Phil Ohlmyer, Peter Outerbridge as Sergei Kirov, Kavan Smith as Nicholas Willis, Jill Teed as Reene Cote, Elise Neal as Debra Graham, Kim Delaney as Maggie McConnell, Armin Mueller-Stahl as Ramier Beck

Mission To Mars Movie Review

Director Brian DePalma's career has been sustained by making audiences remember the one or two ingenious scenes he slips into his otherwise mediocre movies.

What do you remember about "Mission: Impossible?" The silent, ceiling-suspended computer room break-in and the bullet train finale, right?

Can you recall much of "The Untouchables," other than the "Battleship Potemkin"-styled shoot-out on the Grand Central Station staircase? Me either.

The opening tracking shot in "Snake Eyes" that follows Nicholas Cage around a crowded boxing arena? Brilliant. The rest of the movie? Pee-yew!

"Mission To Mars" is an attempt to make an entire film from such signature scenes, but DePalma is trying so hard that all but one of the picture's big set pieces are either overwhelmed by expensive special effects or riddled with unintentional laughs.

Set in the year 2020, the story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of the first humans to land on Mars and the rescue crew sent to find them.

Stuffing epic-sized scope into a movie that's lethargic at 113 minutes, "Mission" hurriedly establishes the heroes' family lives in a backyard pre-launch barbecue scene before jumping to 13 months later and 50 million miles away.

The first landing crew discovers a distinctly metallic outcropping under a Martian mountain. When they take a rover to investigate, an apparently sentient dust storm kicks up and swallows alive all but mission commander Don Cheadle ("Out of Sight") in that effects shot being used to sell the movie on TV.

When the dust settles, the steely center of the mountain is exposed, and guess what? Remember that grainy satellite photo of the surface of Mars, trumpeted by the Weekly World News to contain the giant image of a face...?

Meanwhile, the crew of the World Space Station in orbit around Earth panics when the Mars team's transmission stop suddenly and they organize a rescue mission with Tim Robbins and Gary Sinise at the helm.

So far, so good. In fact, this movie's Memorable DePalma Moment takes place during the second crew's approach to Mars, when the ship is bombarded by micro-meteorites that breach the hull. All the tension and excitement "Mission" has to offer comes in the desperate search for leaks, the spacewalk patch-up job and subsequent explosion that leaves the crew (rounded out by Connie Nielsen from "The Devil's Advocate" and Jerry O'connell from "Body Shots") jet-packing toward a robot resupply vessel in orbit nearby.

Even before this episode is resolved, however, the picture starts slipping toward B-movie oblivion with corny suspension of disbelief moments hinged on low-rent sci-fi scripting. Anyone old enough to remember "Space 1999" might even start having flashbacks.

Although the film looks spectacular throughout (the Martian landscapes are very convincing, even if the surface appears to be made up of rust-colored charcoal briquettes), the contemplative pace is too slow for short attention span testosterone junkies hoping for another "Armageddon" and the scientific/philosophic bent too simplistic to become the "2001" companion piece DePalma is all-too-obviously striving for much of the time.

After some of the spacewalkers reach the surface in the supply capsule, they descramble a mysterious white noise signal full of hidden scientific formula (a la "Contact") and -- abracadabra! -- a door opens on the side of the Big Metal Head. Sinise, Nielsen and Cheadle then step inside for the soft-peddled, "2001"-on-Prozac episode, in which the origins of life on Earth are explained with state-of-the-art holograms, courtesy of the ancient Martian equivalent of Industrial Light and Magic.

The potential for a good movie is visible in "Mission To Mars," but it's just screaming "sell out!" from every frame. Dumbed down for mass consumption by a team of screenwriters collectively responsible for "Predator," "Hard Rain" and "Wild Wild West," the film is a montage of showy effects, blatant product placement (Isuzu, Kawasaki, Pennzoil, Dr. Pepper) and ideas lifted wholesale from much better films. There's a fine line between homage and rip-off. I don't know where exactly that line stands, but "Mission To Mars" crosses it with impudence.

And it's not just me. At the screening I attended -- sponsored by a radio station with an easily entertained listener base -- the audience giggled incessantly through the movie's "magical" moments and booed resoundingly when the credits rolled.


Subscribe to Gary Sinise alerts


Mission To Mars Rating

" Grim "


More Gary Sinise

A Little Chaos Trailer

In the palace of Versailles, a tremendous garden is maintained. One day, the builder and head gardener sees an ordinary woman arriving at the palace,...

Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy Album Review

The solo career of Mr Rice is not one you may realistically describe as that with which you may associate a prolific output. His is...

Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of Trailer

In the late 90's and early 00's, The Backstreet Boys were the most powerful boy band in the world. After discovering that they had not...

George The Poet - 1,2,1,2 (Dismantle Remix) Video

George The Poet unveils an audio for the Dismantle Remix of his single '1,2,1,2', taken from the tracks Remixes EP. The track has been produced...


Perfume Genius - Too Bright Album Review

Ever since the release of his debut LP 'Learning' back in 2010, Seattle's Perfume Genius has attracted increasing attention both publicly and critically. His piano...

The Boys of St. Paul's Choir School - O Come All Ye Faithful Video

The angelic voices of The Boys of St. Paul's Choir School perform a moving rendition of classic Christmas carol 'O Come All Ye Faithful'.

Jamie Scott - Last Christmas Video

Jamie Scott of London duo GRAFFITI6 performs an acoustic rendition of Wham!'s 1984 festive single 'Last Christmas' in a black and white one-take video. In...

Christina Aguilera Ft. Brian McKnight - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Video

In 2000, Christina Aguilera recorded a collection of some of her favourite Christmas songs and the sessions resulted in the album 'My Kind of Christmas',...