I'm a big fan of Brian De Palma. He is a lot of fun as a director and I enjoyed his films like "Blow Out", "Dressed to Kill" and "The Fury" very much.
I went into MISSION TO MARS thinking that a big budget sci-fi adventure seems like an odd fit for De Palma, but wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Always go with your first instinct.
The film depicts a space mission by a strong cast including Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, Don Cheadle, but it is so poorly constructed, so hokey in its execution that it defies belief.
A couple examples:
During a particularly bad spacewalk, one of the characters has to make the decision on risking their own life to rescue a fellow crewman. At one point, the screen on their arm with all their life support readouts actually reads "POINT OF NO RETURN". hahahaha, REALLY? Seems like that's an awfully long description to put on an arm panel. Insufficient Oxygen, okay, I buy that, but.....that's just bad screenwriting!
In one particularly nail-biting moment, the crew is looking for a pin-hole size breach in the hull. They find the hole by squirting Dr Pepper in the air and watching it fly to the hole. It's certainly one of the strangest product placements in film history.
The film's worst attribute is that seems to last as long as a real flight to Mars. It's excruciatingly boring, lacking in innovation and passion.
The last 30 minutes is like 2001 for simpletons, with everything that was wondrous in that film just spelled out like an after school special.
So dull, unintentionally funny, this is a mission to avoid at all costs and gets a D.