Mission to Mars
"Mission to Mars" has smart, original scenes. But, beginning with a picnic in an astronaut's backyard, it also has conversations that drag. Yet it has real vision, and awakens a sense of awe.
A manned mission to Mars lands successfully, but something kills three crew members, and the fourth (Cheadle) loses radio contact with Earth. A rescue mission heads for the red planet, led by co-pilots Robbins and Sinise, with Nielsen as Robbins' wife, and O'Connell as the fourth crew member. They run into tiny meteorites that puncture their hull, causing them to lose pressure. Another crisis occurs, in a taut, moving story, in which four characters try a tricky maneuver outside their ship, then are faced with life-or-death choices.
Once on Mars, they find the survivor, hear his story, and are led into a virtual reality version of what happened. They learn the history of Mars and the secret of life on Earth, and Sinise continues his journey in an unexpected way, full of visual and plot surprises. The movie also has intriguing ideas, and some of the spirit of "2001: A Space Odyssey." Key scenes are well done, but, surrounded by sequences of lackluster dialogue, they drift for a while. But the movie's extraordinary moments make it worth a look, as if gifted director Brian De Palma is rising to the occasion although the screenplay can't give him quite enough to do.
Brian Di Palma
Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Graham Yost, and Lowell Cannon
Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O'Connell
Mars, disaster in space, science fiction, Di Palma
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