Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O'Connell
Curious about Mars? You'd be better off visiting the nearest planetarium. Mission to Mars is a dull, lead-footed bit of sci-fi blather that will thrill special effects-starved 12-year-olds but leave anyone older yawning. The plot, about astronauts who travel to the Red Planet in 2020 and then require rescue, is old helmet, the dialogue clichéd technobabble, and the climactic close encounter shows that gooey sentimentality knows no atmospheric bounds.
Director Brian De Palma (Mission Impossible) stages several dazzling scenes of astronauts moving in space—even jitterbugging—sans gravity, but these function merely as visual gewgaws. Robbins, Sinise and Cheadle, as astronauts, work up an appealing camaraderie while still on the ground, but once they blast off, Mars loses momentum fast. (PG)