Mission to Mars

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director:Brian De Palma
Writers:Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Graham Yost
Touchstone Pictures; PG; 113 minutes
Cast:Gary Sinise, Don Cheadle, Tim Robbins

There is intelligent life in outer space (films), but you wouldn't know it from watching Mission to Mars. It's like Apollo 13 without the believable tension, Contact without Jodie Foster, and 2001 without an original idea.

Director Brian De Palma, continuing his downward descent, has managed to make a movie where every character speaks solely in cliches. His crew ventures out on the first manned Mars mission. The astronauts are so goody-goody and freshly-scrubbed that there is virtually nothing for character traits to stick to, nor reasons for the audience to care what happens to them or any ancient life force that gave rise to them. In spite of the acting, script, and direction, a decent amount of visual flair and flashiness is built into the first part of the movie, when Don Cheadle (Luke Graham) and crew encounter unusual disturbances on the red planet. De Palma's craft becomes unrecoverable when he stages an extended zero-gravity dance scene between Tim Robbins and Connie Nielsen, set to classic rock. The last half-hour launches into chintzy cosmic Darwinism. In my theater, the audience was laughing by the end?not with the movie, but at it, vaguely embarrassed at having spent two hours in cinematic free-fall.

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