the fresh films reviews

S I N C E   1 9 9 7



Mission to Mars (2000)

Directed by:
Brian De Palma
Drama/Science Fiction
Mission to Mars
113 minutes
Produced by:
Tom Jacobson
Written by:
Jim Thomas
John Thomas
Graham Yost

Cast includes:

Jim McConnell Gary Sinise
Woody Blake Tim Robbins
Luke Graham Don Cheadle
Terri Fisher Connie Nielsen
Phil Olmyer Jerry O'Connell
Ramier Beck Armin Mueller-Stahl



If the entire catalogue of science fiction movies were to evaporate overnight and you could only save three films, a good suggestion would be 2001, Close Encounters and this wonderful Brian De Palma vehicle. From its early classical narrative build-up, through its sensational attention to detailed, considerate progression (without becoming too technical) and the grand finale, Mission to Mars resembles the structure of the early era science fiction movies (i.e. Forbidden Planet). The good news is that what De Palma retracts from those films are elements that have been lost in the genre's transition to fast-paced, computer-animated action flicks: the warmth of the characters, the thematic and dramatic patience, and a sincere fascination with the unknown. Mission to Mars has an almost religious attitude towards its themes, which reflects what state of mind someone who is willing to risk his life by travelling millions of kilometres to explore the possibility of intelligent life outside earth must be in. Respect for the unknown is central to these characters, and De Palma's movie adopts that respect.

This lays the foundation for a science fiction film with powerful dramatic proportions. Mission to Mars is as suspenseful as any Hitchcock movie, and it develops its characters so well that we feel that they pull the story as if they write it as they go along. There are a few single scenes that would be competing for a place in a 'Best scenes ever' hall of fame (e.g. Tim Robbins' final scene), and the fantastic finale is the closest thing to religious awakening in the genre since Kubrick's Space Odyssey.

Copyright 8.9.2004 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang [HAVE YOUR SAY]