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The death of Jim McConnell's (Gary Sinise) wife saw him dropped from the first manned mission to Mars which in turn ended up a good thing as the team who reached Mars suffered an unexplained catastrophe with maybe just one of them, Luke (Don Cheadle), surviving. So Jim along with Phil (Jerry O'Connell), Woody (Tim Robbins) and his wife, Terri (Connie Nielsen), are sent on another mission to Mars in the hope of rescuing Luke and learning what happened on the planet. But it is not a straight forwards mission when they suffer their own tragedy and discover some thing very strange when they reach Mars.
So many thoughts flew through my head as I watched "Mission to Mars" such as has Brian De Palma stopped trying to make Hitchcock style movies and now turned his attention to trying to do Kubrick. And to describe "Mission to Mars" as commercial movie might make you think I am on about it trying for mass appeal when in fact I am saying that the product placement makes it feel like a commercial; there is a scene where they have a leak and need to find it whilst in zero gravity, let's squeeze out some Dr. Pepper and see where it goes. These things and various others make "Mission to Mars" at times a movie which borders on being entertainingly laughable.
The thing about "Mission to Mars" is that it is a movie which seems to be dominated by a style and various scene ideas yet never having a consistent style. As such we have scenes early on which are bordering on painful due to their forced, I hope intentionally, nature. But then you have scenes which are right out of an episode of "Star Trek" when it goes to drama on the mission. Plus there are scenes which seem little more than expensive gimmicks such as using a revolving set. And then as Phil and his team make it to Mars we have the discovery of not only what happened to Luke and his team but we discover something much much bigger. It almost feels like a team of writers was put together and they divvied out the story with no general agreement over the tone of the movie.
In truth whilst "Mission to Mars" has a pretty decent cast the performances are as inconsistent as the movie's tone. But again it feels like the writers were in their own worlds and so we have characters who simply say things and react in an unnatural way. In fact I reckon there are times where the actors are not even capable of hiding their own mirth when it comes to what they have to do and say in this movie.
What this all boils down to is that I don't know what the idea behind "Mission to Mars" was but the end result is a movie which is both inconsistent and laughable with its product placement. Yet in a way this ends up one of those movies which become almost entertaining for all the cheesy things and inconsistency.