In the ever-expanding path towards the stars, Mars remains the next big hurdle for humans to tackle, it has held allure from countless Martians to expanding space bases. Yet setting foot on earth’s next-door neighbour has been challenging. In the year 2000, adapting the concept of a theme park ride to the big screen, showcased Humanity’s desire to touch the ground of the distant planet, is still as active as it ever was, but also still fraught with jeopardy, in Mission to Mars.
In the futuristic year of 2020, N.A.S.A. is about to attempt a manned mission to Mars (hence the title) half of the crew touch down on the red planet yet are mysteriously swamped in an unusual sandstorm. The other half is portioned into a rescue mission. Months later as they explore what happened to the crew of Mars One, what caused the incident, and what else lies on Mars. They discover clues about the planet, humanity, and the origins of life itself.
Visually it retains that sheen that a lot of films of the time have, and with its brand-new use of C.G.I. it somehow does not age itself as much as a 20-year-old film would have. Truth be told, this is an effect’s platform: The catastrophic incident on Mars, along with an impressive sequence towards the end shows off the technology at the time. The score by Ennio Morricone great at underscoring the gallant undertaking while being unique and distinct to the film.
An ensemble cast helps bring this ride to life, with the likes of Tim Robbins, Guy Sinise, Don Cheadle, and many others. Their presence helps as the human matters of this historic undertaking is addressed. Questions like what you would do on your last day on earth, how will your family cope and others are all addressed in the first ten or so minutes, and the nature of humanity itself is explored before the film’s closing credits. The stakes are high, and the consequences are surprisingly drastic. Life and death hang in the balance as the crew attempt to salvage their previous mission, heroic deeds are on the menu and Mission to Mars does not hold back on its penalties when other family-focused feature-films might.
Some might believe this is just a kid’s film, like the countless of others I have covered, yet Mission to Mars has a slight mature edge that helps it distinctive from the competition. Good casting and cool effects turn this concept into an action-packed thrill ride (much like the property that inspired it). Though each day we are getting closer, Mars still alludes us. Mission to Mars helps keeps the anticipation and sense of wonderment about the trip fulfilled.
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