David BruceThere is a key line in this film that I found profound: "The universe is not chaos. It's connection. Life reaches out for life. Isn't that what we are born for? To stand in a new world. To look beyond this to the next one."
-Review by David Bruce

MISSION TO MARS
(2000)


This page was created on March 13, 2000
This page was last updated on May 17, 2005

CREDITS

Directed by Brian De Palma
Story: Lowell Cannon, Jim Thomas, John Thomas,
Screenplay: Jim Thomas, John Thomas, and Graham Yost

Gary Sinise as Jim McConnell
Don Cheadle as Luc Goddard
Connie Nielsen
Jerry O'Connell as Phil Ohlmyer
Kim Delaney as Maggie McConnell
Tim Robbins as Woody Blake

Produced by David S. Goyer (co-producer), Justis Greene (co-producer), Tom Jacobson, Sam Mercer (executive), Jim Wedaa (co-producer)
Original music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography by Stephen H. Burum
Film Editing by Paul Hirsch

Rated PG
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

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SYNOPSIS
When the first manned mission to Mars meets with a catastrophic and mysterious disaster, a rescue mission is launched to investigate the tragedy and bring back any survivors. This is the inspirational story of the astronauts of the hurried Mars Recovery mission, the almost insurmountable dangers that confront the heroic crew on their journey through space, and the amazing discovery they make when they finally reach the Red Planet.
REVIEW

Most reviews for Mission to Mars point out the numerous connections to other films and to our historical memory: The moon landing, Apollo 13, the recent Mars Mission, Star Wars' R2D2, ET, Encounters of the Third Kind, and 2001. It's all here and fun to watch for.

However, most reviews fail to point out the central theme of the story -- which is the connected-ness of all things. In some way all of life is connected. I felt as if the connections to 2001, Apollo 13, etc. were meant to underscore this central and important idea of the film.

In fact, there is an important scene in the middle of the film, interestingly, which states this central idea very clearly. One of the main characters, Jim, has suffered the loss of his wife. In a sentimental moment he replays various video memories of their wedding, honeymoon and life together. In the footage we hear her state, "But what if there's more? In all the myths of human culture, Mars has always held special attraction. What if that means something? The universe is not chaos. It's connection. Life reaches out for life. Isn't that what we were born for -- to stand in a new world? To look beyond this, to the next one? It's who we are."
In fact, the whole structure of the film is held together by the idea of "life reaching out for life." The film begins and ends in the same way -- people/life and their connectedness to each other. The opening scene has a husband kissing his wife and spending time with his son. It shows friends sharing themselves with each other. All of this happens outside with a sense of the vastness of the sky. The film ends with these same relationships, except intensified by experience and in the context life beyond earth. To underscore this theme the film has the astronauts form a circle holding hands with an ET.
The film is in a sense a celebration of life in the universe and its kinship. In the Bible there is a verse (Romans 11:36) that says, "From God, through God and to God are all things." This film is an amplification of that truth. The tag for this film is "Let there be life," which is a variation of the Bible's Genesis 1:3 "And God said, 'Let there be light.'" The story overflows with the idea that the universe happened by design, and not chance. It is on the side of planned order and connection, not on the side of chaos and randomness.
Between the beginning and the end, there is a man who sacrifices himself so others can be saved! It is the greatest act of love in the film, played well by Timothy Robbins. There is a sense, and the film so states, that he, though dead, is still present with the crew. I won't go into the amazing spiritual parallels here with Jesus Christ. But, again: we see the idea of the connectedness of life here to life beyond. The film gives us this sense of life after death in an earlier scene, as well. It is when Jim is watching the video memories of his late wife and she speaks of, "What if there is more?" She is the bride that speaks of the coming "new world" and "Isn't that what we were born for?" Again, there are amazing spiritual parallels here which I won't go into -- this time to the bride of Christ (Bible students will understand).

Here are some closing and related passages from the Hebrew Bible book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 45:12 I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the millions of stars are at my command.

Isaiah 45:18 For the Lord is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. "I am the Lord," he says, "and there is no other.

Isaiah 65:17 "Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth?so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore.

And a final one from the ever popular Bible book of Revelation:

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let each one who hears them say, "Come." Let the thirsty ones come?anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge.

COMMENT ON THIS FILM

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GREAT TOYS GONE TO WASTE ON BAD STORY TELLERS
Subject: Mission to Mars
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2000
From: Ron

Leaves me wondering what the heck happened! The equipment, the sets, the spacecraft, everything were right on. Real believable, in fact I felt as though NASA and companies like Boeing (Douglas), Lockheed and Raytheon helped or contributed to the images and accuracy. All of it was, I?m sure a truer look into our near future in space than anything I?ve seen for a while. Oh but the script, and the scenes were a complete failure. I had plenty of time to think during the boring, contrived dialog and desperate attempts by the actors to stretch things out and make things work, I thought "OH no", they have spent all the budget on Techno, and totally botched the story. It?s a great story! One that should be told, but it was a failure on the management of the film. Bad Job BOYZ? you failed! No amount of heads up, I don?t know what I?m talking about or you don?t count will change that. It smacks of egotistic, bumbling at the upper levels to me; you can just smell it. If you received much monitory support from NASA, or Dr Pepper or the aircraft companies, it was a shell game you pulled off, and I hope they wise up and take you to court. In fact that?s a good story, like Robert DeNiro in Wag the Dog? Only it?s Pastawits in "A Swag in Space"?. A story about a wayward Rabbi convinces NASA and the Defense establishment to promote their failing image through a bogus film. Go for it, it?s yours. Please do it over! Please?. You idiots, and this time leave it alone, keep your hands out of it. A good example of how to pull this story off was "Contact". Good Techno, good story line and script, good follow through and some solid but not super big actors. I bet the budget was near the same but they did so well. Ending with the same theme, hope and a positive look out to the stars and our future. OH well, sorry, too bad good toys gone to waste on rotten storytellers. And what?s this line you dreamed up, "what we were born for", real real bad? RON

HORRID MISSION TO MARS
Subject: Bad movie Horrid Movie
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000
From: Casey Stephens Casey1939@aol.com

when i went to see MTM I was so excitied. Tim Robbins and Gary Sinese in the same movie! 2 of my almost fav. actors that I enjoyed watching in the Shawshank Redemption and Gary in "Of Mice and Men" and "The Stand". I actually asked for my money back @ the end of the movie. Dialogue was horrible. The bad corny lines didn't make much leeway for the actors to actually Act well. I knew it was gonna be a not-so-great movie in the first scene of the bar-b-Q when the black guy (don't remember his name) was having a conversation w/ Sinese..it was just toooo CORNY. The movie spent all that time developing the problem, and developing the solution, and then @ the end, no definite solution was made! Why did Sinese feel he had to go w/ this Strange "mother of humanity"? and just so many Whys? and i hope to goodness they don't make a sequel, which the plot kind of needs, but i hope they put this kind of directing, writing and acting in a trash can somewhere. The movie was not at all as well put together as most movies, and some of the scenes (like the people walking around on the space ship in that circle thing, and the "goodbye" scene between Robbins and his Wife) were just too sappy and too drawn out. The fact that the movie supports evolution is against the Bible, and against scientific evidence (last i checked evolution was still a Theory). Sinese looked as if he was constipated through the whole movie (chuckle, ha ha) My friend and I laughed our butts off @ the end of the movie, mainly because we were stunned that we had spent 7 dollars to see a mediocre movie that had the screenplay/dialogue of a high school play. but anyways, i know this movie is fiction, but it was bad fiction, that flowed horribly and was too corny for my star trek loving mind :) sorry for this not-so-good put together review :) Casey Stephens Casey1939@aol.com

GLORY SHOULD GO TO GOD
Date: 14 Sep 00
From: Richard Alexander

Dear Sir, I recently bought a DVD copy of Mission to Mars, which not only includes the movie, but a behind-the-scenes look at its creation. I have watched the movie 3 times, twice after watching the additional material on the disk. The movie is enjoyable and has many great parts. It also has weaknesses. The most troubling aspect of the movie is that it portrays adoration and love to the Martians for man's creation, when that glory should go to God. It is sad to me that credit for God's creation should go to a mythical civilization, one that can't possibly care for humanity as God does. It is also troubling that the climax of the movie, the ultimate hope given by the movie, is that one man got to travel to another galaxy where he may meet the creatures who are his maker. This sounds like the typical humanistic hope; everyone is going to die, and after death there is nothing but other people's memories of you, but the great hope is ultimate knowledge of the wonders of the Universe for our children.

The Christian's hope is that each individual among the redeemed will experience immortality and life in glory forever with God; the things of this Universe "will grow strangly dim, in the light of His glory and grace." My displeasure at the movie's message is relieved a bit by the knowledge that any informed, rational person should realize that the premise of the movie has no legs. There is no Face on Mars. Life began soon after Earth's formation (even the evolutionists acknowledge that life forms have been found in nearly the oldest time periods of Earth's history), meaning that DNA was already well-established on Earth long before the Martians could have sent ships to Earth. The colder environment of Mars makes chemical processes slower, presumably meaning that evolution would also evolve slower on Mars than on Earth.

Even if Martians had seeded ancient Earth with DNA in the Cambrian period, there has been a lot of variety in life since then; there is nothing that says that intelligent life or the dominant life form on Earth had to have a humanoid form. I enjoy the movie most when I consider it as just a fun, escapist fantasy, with very little expectation of seriousness. There are many other things I could nit-pick on this movie, but they aren't really relevant to the theme of this site.
Sincerely, Richard Alexander

THE EVILS OF MISSION TO MARS, DEMON ALERT
Subject: comments for christians
Date: Wed, 10 May 2000
From: Dennis Murton

Greetings in the name of our LORD JESUS CRIST.I have just found this site very recently and thought this would give me a good insight on new movies .But I have to say ,just looking at the review of this movie and the comments about it , do christians really belong in a movie like this? are we not promoting the making of these kind of movies? If we let our kids watch them would it make them numb to all the media that's out there about aliens? Just like many commented I believe these so called aliens are demons .There is a spiritual world and the devil and his angels want nothing more but to take as many as possible with them.I am not writing this to condem any of you for watching it but let's be careful what we feed our minds with and be aware of the spiritual warfare that is going on and supporting the filmmakers by visiting their movies.
Claudia

Response: What? Take two steps back and listen to yourself. I am supporting a promotion of demons by going to this film -and it numbs kids? I have no words. Do you subscribe to newspapers? Do you watch television? Do you step out your front door? Do you read only the Bible? Do you not connect with the larger world?

WEAK FINISH
Subject: Strong Start, Weak Finish
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000
From: Campus Chronicle Editor

Mission to Mars disappointed me. The beginning was thundrously powerful, but the longer the movie went on, the worse it got. The whole scene where Tim Robbins' character sacrificed himself for his wife was awful, and not in an emotional sense. It seems to me that in order to sustain suspense, something has to go right. Nothing in that scene went right, so by the time he committed suicide, I was just depressed. The end was rather like the end of Sphere. Like Sphere, it was touch-feely. Like Sphere, it lacked the sense of triumph I think the director was shooting for.

DISAPPOINTING ENDING
Subject: Oh puh-lease...
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000
From: The Butson Family

As a science fiction fan and an engineer AND a movie fan, I appreciated the first 80% of the movie as good storytelling as well as tribute to a number of other movies which came before it. But as my wife and I were discussing the EXTREMELY disappointing ending on the way home, my going-on-12-year-old daughter who saw it with us picked up on our exasperation with the schmaltzy hand holding at the end and stated, "All they needed was for everyone to start singing Kumbaya!" (My wife, incidently, says I have no one to blame for this bundle of personality and sarcasm but myself...). THAT was it exactly. Even the massive towers as the white light rose up through the structure were....yes, alien figures reaching for the stars. Gag me with a HAL 9000! So, great solid buildup to a soggy sponge of an ending. Connectedness is fine, but the visual Kumbaya was a real bust.

A LITTLE LAME
Subject:A little lame, I must say
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000
From: The Butson Family

David!! Mission to Mars left my husband, daughter and I wondering "what happened?" It was great until they got into the face on Mars and started holding hands with the alien and with each other. . .the creators absolutely lost me at that point. It then became like a trip to Epcot to promote the Extra-Terrestrial pavilion. . . I definitely got the connectedness theme though. That was refreshing.The relationship between Tim Robbins' character and his wife, and the relationships between the entire crew was great to see on screen. No bickering, name-calling, but kindness and support offered to one another and the sacrificing of one life to save the rest. That's the good stuff that me and my family came away with. The special effects were good (what else can you expect from ILM and Disney?), but any Biblical symbolism was lost on me. I'll take an astronaut dancing with his wife in zero-gravity and good friends BEING friends.

IT IS NOT ABSURD
Subject: to Chris Evans...
Date: Sat, 15 Apr 2000
From: Stephen

I just wanted to say that the seen where Connie Nielson tries to reach Tim Robbins is not absurd. Due to the gravitational pull, Connie wouldn't have had enough to get her and Tim back to the others. I just wanted to clear this up, because obviously you overlooked it.

M2M IS ANTI-GOD
Subject: Mission to Mars
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000
From: "Steve Evans"

I worked at ILM when they were working on Mission to Mars. I can assure you that there is no Christian symbolism in that movie. There might be two Christians at ILM, and they probably don't work in the art or CG department. I can't believe that Christians would support this pro-evolution, anti-God movie. I can understand you trying to find the positive side of movies but this movie has a very clear agenda. Side note- in space there is no resistance so hence the woman wouldn't have to have but a small burst to propel herself towards Timothy Robbins. Therefore that scene was obsurd.
Thank you Chris Evans

Response: So, let's see. One man giving his life for the sake of others. HMMM, yeah you are right. Dosen't seem like a very Christian concept to me either! I mean, good grief! It is anti-God. Thank you for your warming. -David

MISSION TO REVELATION
Subject: Mission_to_Mars
Date: 28 Mar 00
From: gavin

I recently saw the movie "Mission to Mars" and I thought it was a pretty good movie. Like others in its class, human creation by "alien" intervention seems to be the focus.. Revelation records that entities "inspired utterances of demons which look in appearance as frogs will mislead the kings of the earth" would appear during the end days. Do not "greys" look like frogs? Is it mere coincidence that another primary "ET" type is (lizard) reptilian in nature also? Daniel in his final part of the statue prophesy states "they will mix with the seed of mankind and not stick together"... could the abductions we hear so much about which involve sexual experiments as well as animal mutilations be a cloning project? Hence an introduction of a new species derived from the seed of man? The face of Mars is depicted as a grey in "Mission to Mars" when in fact it is a partially destroyed lion's face. The side intact was never cleary photographed until recently. The older portion photographed by the original Viking lander was a low resolution image of the destroyed portion of the face - which rendered it humanlike. Very close indeed from its original feline form. What does this lion have in accordance to scripture? In Revelation Jesus is described as a Lamb, Lion, and in his governmental arrangement, a capstone (or cornerstone) depending on translation. Jesus was depicted as a lion because he won that great battle. "The Lion from the tribe of Judah who has conquered"... Could this structure on Mars be an edifice to Him? Much archeological evidence seems to make this Christian connection....from Mars to Earth. According to Isaiah 19:19... structures which appear to be the Great Pyramids themselves are referred to as "Altars to Jehova in the midst of egypt"... And that the egyptians themselves had no idea who this God was who constructed them until Moses arrived. To further support this Biblical writing, Archaologists have recently announced that the Pyramids appear to be much older than Cairo and have no connection to Egytpian's whatsoever. Cairo, according to ancient records means "The victorious from the Great War of Mars"... Mars is known mythologically as WAR. The sphinx has a human face carved on it much younger than the rest of the statue. It is tiny and out of place compared to the remaining heavily eroded statue. Could this face have been recarved at a later date ie when the egyptians arrived? We will get back to the "lion" in a moment. The great pyramid of Giza, according to archaeologists was covered with a gleaming gold capstone....and 144,000 white outer casing stones as well. A direct relation to Jesus and his 144,000. This pyramid very possibly was an altar ie some type of mechanical structure important to the original covenant of Jehova and His Son Jesus. Jesus' ransom sacrifice was necessary to restore this covenant and salvation program to mankind to deter Satan's original plan in the Garden of Eden. All the pieces seem to fit.... Mars' lion, the lion (recarved to a Sphinx) and the pyramids of Egypt (Isaiah 19:19). The 144,000 who reign under Christ as King during the Millenium. Just be wary if and when the "grey bretheren" come to save us from our demise..... It could be a nasty deception. And get ready for many more movies depicting alien contact as the public is made aware... "Gavin"

Response: Wow! I am curious, did you read "Fingerprints of the Gods?"

UTTERANCES OF DEMONS
Subject: Mission to Mars
Date: 28 Mar 00
From: gavin

I saw Mission to Mars, and I actually enjoyed this movie. However, it is among many of recent films invoking a sense of evolution by advanced "alien gray" type creatures. Christians, like it or not... we are about to be introduced to some very overwhelming material to test our faith... ie Artificial structures on Mars is only the beginning...and they are really there. In this movie, the face on Mars is mis-represented as an "alien grey" type creature. Truth is this edifice is a partially destroyed lion's face. Viking's videcon tube captured the destroyed surface and blurred it into what appears to be human. The other half recently re-photographed clearly shows the true feline likeness. Mars was devastated long ago by war or other demise. Curious that mythologically Mars is associated with war. Greys fit the description in Revelation as "Utterances of demons that look like frogs that deceive the kings of the earth"... another popular reported alien

GREAT THEMES IN M2M
Subject:comments
Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000
From: "Rich Thornton"

I saw Mission to Mars today and really enjoyed it. It was nice to see a PG movie that took you to the edge of expectation but didn't go over the edge. The fact that the movie celebrated two good marriages was great too. When the one husband gave his life for his wife it was a real picture of what a husband is to be willing to do. I enjoyed the friendships of those involved instead of the usual competiveness that can go along with any important venture. It was a good movie and a great way to spend a day off. --Rich Thornton
Response: Yes, it was refreshing to see this. -David.

SHADES OF CHARIOTS OF THE GODS
Subject: Comments on Film
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000
From: TAORR

Your comments on this film are insightful, though I found the central argument, that our DNA was deposited on earth by aliens, to be a bit tired--shades of "Chariots of the Gods" from a few years back. I agree that the "connectedness of life" theme is affirmative and quite Biblical as far as it goes, but the film presses no further. Lots of pagans believe in this idea too. The primacy of divine creation is largely missing from the film
Response: You are right about this. -David

 

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