Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 36
  2. Negative: 14 out of 36

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Critic Reviews

  1. One of the most gorgeous science-fiction movies ever - and probably also one of the most realistic in detail and scientific extrapolation
  2. Earthlings beware: The dialogue and characters have less weight than bodies freed from gravity's grip.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    This isn't "2001," by a long shot, but for 2000, it'll do nicely.
  4. Here and there an inspired shot makes the film come alive, and at least three of its sequences had me positioned well on the edge of my seat.
  5. 63
    I can't recommend Mission to Mars.
  6. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    There are times when it moves into the guilty pleasure zone.
  7. The picture is equally long on eye-dazzling camera work and New Age sentimentality.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    You can feel the movie going wrong in the first scene.
  9. Trying to make sense of this shaggy dog story is like climbing a mountain with glass-smooth sides and quarter-inch toeholds.
  10. It's a wonderful piece of filmmaking, but once any mouth is opened the magic is immediately tarnished.
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    He does gorgeous work, but in Mission to Mars he's only going through the motions.
  12. Plot-wise, this is strictly paint-by-numbers stuff.
  13. It's low-energy, and it's also depressing to know that people are still listening to Van Halen 20 years from now.
  14. 50
    Dazzling to look at but dreadful to listen to, the film is a tug-of-war of coolness and dreck.
  15. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    For a good 40 minutes or so in the middle of this movie, De Palma is in his element.
  16. In the presence of profound questions, the filmmaker goes profoundly shallow.
  17. 40
    Halfway through, De Palma literally explodes his narrative to orchestrate a superb deep-space float-opera replete with runaway modules, high-tech lassos, dramatic self-sacrifice, and, in the most surprising maneuver, a montage-driven modicum of actual suspense.
  18. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    All such good intentions collapse by the third act, when Mission to Mars becomes a tediously late pastiche of chimerical nonsense from the early 1980s.
  19. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's a gorgeous bad movie, the folly of a great visual stylist.
  20. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    The final scenes, which suggest an earnest science lesson presented by a weepy extraterrestrial in an alien planetarium, play like the work of an amateur filmmaker.
  21. The script is heavy on platitudes about friendship, but since there isn't a single fully fleshed character in sight, who cares?
  22. 40
    There doesn't seem to be an original moment in the entire movie, and the score is so repetitive that it could have been downloaded directly from
  23. 38
    A $100 million production of a 10-cent script, is so clunkily written, so bereft of any engaging ideas or emotions, you'd think De Palma would have sneered at it on first reading and passed
  24. One can only assume all the, ah, good stuff landed on the cutting-room floor, because it sure as hell didn't make it to Mars.
  25. Rolling Stone
    Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    What DePalma has never made is a dull movie. Until now.
  26. There are a few pretty good design effects en route, but not enough to compensate for all the embarrassments.
  27. It features well-below-par writing, acting, direction, special effects and music, while oozing a nauseating New Age sentimentality that undermines any tension in the underlying story.
  28. Something so sappy, no one would believe me if I told them. It has to be seen to be disbelieved.
  29. 20
    De Palma's film is a mess from its anxious start all the way through to its new-agey end, relying heavily on cribs from Kubrick and Cameron and even the recent "Apollo 13."
  30. I'm not sure if it was that or the cloying script, but after a couple of hours of spinning around listening to this drivel I felt like I was going to barf.
  31. 20
    Even more frightening are the miserable performances elicited from A-list talent, particularly Tim Robbins and Gary Sinise, both Oscar-nominated actors who perform with all the heartfelt conviction of Hawaiian-shirt-clad teenagers in a high school rendition of "South Pacific."
  32. 20
    Otherwise fine actors such as Don Cheadle and Gary Sinise spend nearly two hours of film time stand-ing around like department-store dummies mouthing dialogue so wooden it's petrified.
  33. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    In outer space, no one can hear you scream -- of boredom.
  34. 10
    Startlingly inept from start to finish -- it's atrociously written, poorly shot and edited and fatally unfocused.
  35. 10
    As intriguing as the premise sounds, Mission to Mars hasn't a single moment of real suspense.
  36. It's an experience as frustrating as watching Jeff Gordon drive a stock car through a bowl of oatmeal.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 50 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 17
  2. Negative: 4 out of 17
  1. Oct 5, 2011
    I don' really remember the precise details of "Mission to Mars" (I was a kid back then). But I do still remember the wonderful performance ofI don' really remember the precise details of "Mission to Mars" (I was a kid back then). But I do still remember the wonderful performance of Tim Robbins as well as his prominent sacrifice for his team. Overall, I believe I liked it. Full Review »
  2. Jun 15, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I think the people who rated this film low,were probably expecting some action film,& dont 'get' what this film is meant to be about,or religious types,who dont their beliefs challenged.This film never claimed to be an action movie.Its a subtle & thought provoking film,that challenges the ideas & presents other theories of what started life on earth.The acting was top notch,& i was gripped from beginning to end.& so what if the Aliens were not bad guys! not every film has to be sinister,& it was refreshing to see the mystery at the end was not sinister at all,but something else.a paragon. Full Review »
  3. Mar 25, 2014
    A space movie that is about hope, awe, and wonder rather than the anti-human-aliens and space-horror fest that has been the norm in this genreA space movie that is about hope, awe, and wonder rather than the anti-human-aliens and space-horror fest that has been the norm in this genre for the last 35 years. A rare gem in science fiction cinema. Full Review »