"Mission to Mars"
Directed by Brian De Palma.
Written by Jim Thomas, John Thomas and Graham Yost.
Starring Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle and Connie
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 3/11/00
Libby and I went to catch “Mission to Mars”
during a rainy Saturday afternoon, and normally, this is a great
time to watch a movie...unless the movie is a flaming piece of dog
shit like "MoM."
It is the rare piece of art: the movie that
can assemble A-list actors, directors, and special effects
supervisors; get promoted during a slow month out the wazoo; contain
a summer-movie-style budget of $50 million plus...and, get it all
wrong. Not just some, or part, but all of that muthafucka wrong.
Let's get the credentials out again for what
makes a piece of shit movie. First, great performers in bad
material. "MoM" stars Gary Sinise--who, as a poor man's Kevin
Spacey is just a phenomenal actor--as an astronaut that, having just
lost his wife to some form of disease, is a top NASA mind that is
America's best hope at figuring out the planet Mars and its many
secrets, including whether or not it supports alien life. Tim
Robbins--he directed "Dead Man Walking," for heaven's sake!--plays
one of Sinise's best friends, and Don Cheadle--the most versatile
actor working, for my money: a violent criminal in "Devil in a Blue
Dress," a softie porn star in "Boogie Nights," and a Ph.D. scientist
in "MoM"--plays the astronaut that gets trapped on Mars and requires
Sinise and Robbins to save him. Did I mention that the movie is
directed by Brian de Palma? BRIAN DE PALMA! The director of "Scarface"
must be wondering what possessed him to direct this god-awful
Second bad movie requirement: complete and
total inertia. This movie is 120 minutes long, and it can be summed
up by what happens in its final 10. For the other 110, the cast of
the movie sets about to do nothing. NOTHING! There is a sequence
where one of the space shuttles has a loss of cabin pressure, and it
takes about 15 minutes of screen time for the four-person crew
aboard the ship to fix it. Do you know what they use to fix it?
DOCTOR FUCKING PEPPER!!
DOCTOR FUCKING PEPPER!!
DOCTOR FUCKING PEPPER!!
It probably cost $20 million dollars to
shoot this sequence, and all I can do is laugh at this piece of shit
movie for taking so long to fix a hole the size of a pinhead in the
rear of the spacecraft.
Oh, you want more? How about a six-minute
sequence where Tim Robbins' character and his wife learn how to
dance in zero gravity? How about the Tim Robbins' death sequence,
where as he is falling towards the Mars atmosphere while in outer
space, his wife is trying to save him with a tether gun? (Her
wristband-sized computer tells her--I AM NOT LYING—that she is at
"the point of no return." The computer said that! As if it could
also say, "Hey Mary, your husband is totally fucked" too?
The third problem, gratuitous film
sequences, is kind of included in the above statements. See, the
whole film revolves around Gary Sinise's "Mission to Mars" because
they are going there to rescue Cheadle. With that in mind, Cheadle
gets stranded there in the first 20 minutes of the movie. Sinise
and his crew get to Cheadle in the final 20. So, every single thing
that happens in between is useless, uninteresting, and expensive
And the fourth problem? A shit-ass ending.
Hmm, how do I say this...the dumbest ending of the last two years
doesn't seem to cover it, so let me go further. This is a top-five
bad ending of all time type of ending. It is so bad as to be
offensive. The screenwriter must have been laughing when she or he
wrote it. It is the type of ending where, if you look around your
theater, you will see other filmgoers shaking their heads, too. It
is also the type of ending that produces nervous giggling around the
theater as if to say, "Are you serious?", and then you slowly,
painfully realize that in fact, they are not kidding. To build up
to this kind of ending, understand one thing: the first 110 minutes
are boring, but to make the last 10 minutes even more boring than
the first 110, you've got to work your ass off. But somehow, the
filmmakers did it!
A fifth problem, and this is just me really,
is the PG rating. When movies are rated PG and they are not called
"Babar's Trip to Washington", I get worried. Don't you? When you
realize that this is not a kid's movie, and it is rated PG, that
means there is no nudity, no SSC (for you rookies, strong sexual
content), no drug use, no violence, no adult themes, no James
Bondian-phrases like "I thought Christmas only *came* once a year"
(during last year's
"The World is Not Enough", to Denise Richards'
Christmas Jones character during a love scene), no nothing. It is
just the stripped-down movie, and that movie has got to be pretty
damn close to perfect to entertain me.
A sad statement, I admit...but, not as sad
as this piss-poor movie (or, the
"X-Men" preview...that movie looks
Rating: Hard Vice
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard