If you substitute “Dead Ass” for the word “Mars” in the title of this movie, you’ve got a good idea what to expect when you watch it. Brian DePalma, this is Houston: Mission to Dead Ass accomplished! This movie is one slow sumbitch. I’ve never seen an “action” movie with such laid-back death scenes in my life. Since most of the movie takes place in outer space, the cast faces crisis after crisis in zero gravity. They just flooooooooooaaaaaaaaat on over to patch the ruptured spaceship hull, waaaaaaaaafffft slowly toward the oxygen tanks before they asphyxiate, drrriiiiiiiiiiifffft leisurely into the deadly atmosphere of Mars. And they’re always accompanied by this lighthearted, reflective organ music. Death really can be fun!
In one scene, the four astronauts are forced to spacewalk when their ship blows up, and they attempt to hitch a ride on a passing satellite. First though, they must tether themselves to the satellite as it zips by. Timothy Robbins succeeds in latching the other three astronauts to the satellite, but he winds up bouncing off of it and floating away into Mars’ atmosphere.
Does he panic? Hell no!
“As you can see, I overshot my trajectory and am now moving into Mars’ ionosphere at point-oh-two meters per second. I estimate that you have 4.5 seconds to shoot me the tether with the cable gun, which incidentally, propels the tether at 77 meters per second, before I am incinerated in the atmosphere…”
Hey Mr. Spock, lay off the analysis and do something useful, like screaming your fucking head off for help! Who cares if your fellow astronauts die trying to save you? If I’ve only got 4 seconds left to live, I’m gonna go totally apeshit! I guess they force astronauts to practice yoga or something, just for situations like these. To prevent the others from risking their own lives by coming after him, he nonchalantly takes his space helmet off in the hard vacuum of space and turns himself into a California raisin. No blood, no guts, no screaming. Just a handy snack fruit full of iron and antioxidants where his face used to be.
Mars, as we discover later in the movie, was once home to intelligent life. The remaining astronauts find a huge structure on the planet’s surface that is shaped like an alien’s face. They figure out how to get in the structure and, for their efforts, are treated to a 3-D computer generated history of Mars. Basically, they flew 100 million miles to see a futuristic Power Point presentation by a skinny alien chick whose headwear was stolen from Erykah Badu’s closet. Where the hell was her laser pointer?
So, it turns out that Martians are the ancestors of humans, Gary Sinise decides to join the aliens, scads of mysteries about human origins are revealed, etc. etc. etc. I’ve got a question. How come the alien woman never talks? The astronauts watch a 3-D animated history of Mars and THEY are the ones who narrate it. Why? Did they max the budget on all the other effects? Couldn’t they afford to animate a couple of lips on Twiggy the alien? Come on, dammit! Treat us like we’ve got some smarts. Not all of us are euthanizing our brains, sitting on them at your sucky movies.