As the end of the 20th Century came to a close, in the final year, we were given the first of two sci-fi films based on the planet Mars, this was the first released.
It kinda came across that these films were like a kind of beacon, a sign for the start of greater things to come, perhaps we would reach Mars very soon, perhaps what we were to see in these films would become reality...alas no, not yet.
Even with a musical score composed by the legend Morricone this film falls short and its such a shame, to be honest its not too bad but clearly tries to be an epic and simply can't fill those boots. The plot obviously is revolving around adventures on and orbiting Mars, you know exactly what to expect really, the dangers, the tone, the atmosphere, the look etc...you can see it coming a mile off but you look forward to it because its space adventure.
The problem is the film is desperately trying to be like '2001' in terms of grandeur in scale and visions but its just too plain, there is an obvious attempt to make it as real as possible but nothing looks exciting or new at the same time, its all rather dull looking. The effects are quite good with models and cgi in use (too much of course), good sets, nice Mars work etc...but there is nothing truly EPIC here, it almost looks like a TV movie at times.
Casting is good, you simply can't do a space film without Sinise haha you just can't, the man just makes it look so...real! The rest of the team are decent, sensible and not overblown but maybe too big for the roles, the usage of unknowns would have been better I think.
The score again like the film just doesn't quite hit the mark in my opinion, Morricone is the man and his work here is good for sure but is it me or does it sound a bit too close to his 'Untouchables' score? everytime it played I just kept thinking of 'The Untouchables'. As for the rest of the score its unusual and simply doesn't work, emotional scenes are ruined by a quite odd and poor choice in music which totally takes you out of the moment, the film may be inspired by a Disney ride but there's no need to make it sound like a Disney kiddie film.
The whole film seems a tad rushed really, the plot jumps from one section to another not even showing the launches from earth or much travel, sure there are time constraints but maybe make the film a bit longer and add some realism or filler? characters are fleshed out mostly in flashbacks which mean nothing really, dialog is really cheesy which equals some pretty wooden/hokey acting from even Sinise! hehe.
Add to that a rather dodgy looking cgi alien, a basic plot finale which was sort of an anti-climax and tries a bit to hard to do the 'E.T.' thing with your emotions but kinda fails and then a very blunt flat ending. Enjoyable film which tries its best to really be something special but isn't, the better of the two Mars films, the more sensible one (the 'Deep Impact' of the two ;) )