In this film, De Palma puts his most aesthetic direction at the service of humanism; the result is emotion - a joyous, moving, and sincere film about overcoming fear, pursuing dreams, and, ultimately, through the attainment of knowledge, hope in the afterlife. It's sad its depth and poetry don't have a chance against the skepticism of the usual moviegoer; a beautiful and underrated film from a great director.
Likely one of the most well-used VHS tapes to be found around my house when I was a little kid, and it isn't hard to see why. De Palma's romantic marriage of modernistic space-exploration and classic Flash Gordon/Barsoom-esque sci-fi mysticism made all the far off worlds of my young imagination seem so attainable. The conclusion remains a powerful, nostalgic experience for me.
This film was even critically maligned than The Black Dahlia and once again I disagree with the critical masses. In parts, it is a bit too campy. But in others it is incredibly effective and moving. I refuse to apologize for the fact that I really like this movie.
De Palma's baroque sci-fi masterpiece is his most balletic and personal work. The film's idyllic wonder may give it a campy or disingenuous sheen, but it belies a great admiration for knowledge and a greater faith that the mysteries of the universe will surpass our most outlandish imaginings. Here we see De Palma paying homage to science, Hollywood and his own boyhood simultaneously and the results are staggering.
I like Brian De Palma, and I like this movie in theory—a sci-fi film of clean-cut innocence and intentional artifice, with some great zero-g camerawork and a really inventive, unusual score. But working in theory isn't enough, and too much of the film doesn't work on screen. It's alright to earnestly pay homage to 50 years of sci-fi cliches, but you have to capture why we/you love them in the first place.
"Mission to Mars" could have been good, but it had 1) Gary Sinise wearing too much eyeliner, 2) Tim Robbins playing a smug goody-goody actually named Woody (LMAO!) who is so self-righteous that when he sacrifices his own life for the crew with his Christly vapid "Hudsucker" grin, you want to pull his plug and finish him off already, and 3) the computer voice is like HAL meets the robot from Buck Rogers 79.