As someone with a bit more than a passing interest in Mars, the beginning of this one doesn't encourage me. The first manned mission to Mars results in the crew being wiped out by some bizarre entity connected to a giant metal or stone face. What's more they relocate one of the well known rocks from one of the Viking landing sites to next to the edge of a cliff (I know it has a cute nickname, but I'm not coming up with it right now). They use the wrong terminology too - it's called a "marsquake", not an "earthquake"... as a writer, one could at least notice the irony of the term and shorten it to "quake" if research didn't appeal. And what do they think a chromosome is? I think I could keep going for some time on little issues with the science of the film, but now seems like a good time to stop. You get the idea, I'm sure.
The people behind Mission to Mars obviously have a touchy-feely relationship to the planet. There are two views among those who consider there to be a possibility for life on Mars. One suggests that the atmosphere, surface composition, and orbit of the planet fall within expected parameters for primitive life. The other suggests extra-terrestrial life is advanced, incredibly curious about humans, enough so to make monuments of their faces on Mars, and that there are worldwide conspiracies to make that a secret.
Let me take that back about the touchy-feely makers of the film. This is probably just a marketing decision. A world where myserious creepy forces are at work is much more interesting to watch than one where an unmoving mosslike substance would be the most exciting discovery.
I think what they want to convey here is a particular kind of experience, where the very boundaries of what we know as a species changes - something like in 2001, a Space Odyssey. If you can accept the movie at face value, maybe that's what you get. But it's nearly impossible to do that. There are holes at every single level - from the aforementioned scientific, to the unfocused nature of the plot, to the logical and causal fallacies in every aspect of what's presented, to visual anthropomorphization of alien behavior, to untold other things I am too swamped to think of now.
I guess the graphics aren't bad, but graphics are there to illuminate a story, not be the story. I can't give any points for that. At least, in this genre of Mars movies, the similarly bad Red Planet had something resembling an intended plot. It's quite an accomplishment to outsuck that one
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