Movie Review 2008 #21: Mission to Mars

Brian De Palma’s attempt at a space epic, starring Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Jerry O’Connell and Carrie Nielsen.

In the 2020’s, exploration of space has proceeded apace. With an improved space station leading the way, a Mission to Mars is planned and sent. Disaster strikes the first visitors to the Red Planet, as an anomalous formation lead the crew into a deadly encounter. With only one member of the crew known to be alive, a second mission is launched to rescue him, and to find out just what happened.
This rescue crew features a husband and wife crew, a young scientist, and a pilot who should have been on the first mission save for a tragedy in his past. Now, the rescue mission provides a second chance for him to prove himself…
Mission to Mars is not a complicated movie. And really the center of the movie is Gary Sinise’s Jim McConnell, ace pilot and Mars expert. I don’t think its entirely a spoiler to say that one of the four crew perish on the rescue, leaving McConnell as the leader of the mission as he was always meant to be.
The movie is somewhat derivative. The dialogue is weak and the science is in some places very suspect. (The DNA and genetic stuff really rubbed me the wrong way) The talents of the actors are, frankly, underutilized.
The visuals are good, and the movie makes a halfway decent attempt to show “daily life” on a ship bound for Mars. The movie does present some SF ideas effectively. Still, the movie could have been much more and much better, and in the end comes up short.