Making the Grades
From a family point of view, we should be bowing in gratitude for a sci-fi movie with a PG rating -- almost as rare a find as a Martian rock in Antarctica. But before you get on your knees, understand that Mission To Mars, while enjoyable for teens and adults, will hardly go down as a classic even though it does its best to imitate Stanley Kubrick's 2001 -- A Space Odyssey.
Kubrick had us orbiting Jupiter in 2001, whereas Mission To Mars aims for the more humble timetable of people exploring the Red Planet in 2020. (Could NASA's recent crash landings have account for this cultural shift?) Hopefully their script isn't an accurate prediction. The first manned mission to land on Mars barely gets past the souvenir stand before being swallowed up in a tornado-like funnel. One crew member is broken apart like a frog in a blender and only the captain, Luke Graham (Don Cheadle), survives to send a weak message for help.
Unsure what to make of the distress call, NASA is persuaded by a group of astronauts, training for the second Mars journey, to launch a rescue attempt. But the crew insists Jim McConnell (Gary Sinise) be part of this assignment. Jim was slated for the first Mars mission, but was deleted from the roster when his wife became ill and died. (Note Gary Sinise playing the same "rejected astronaut" as he did in Apollo 13).
Of course their voyage is besought by mishaps that create tense scenes, a couple of slightly graphic moments, and some mild profanities with disrespectful terms of Deity. Also, sexual conversation occurs between the married couple NASA included in the crew, however their marriage is portrayed in a very positive light.
Mission To Mars is heavy on the usual "lost in space" lines ("We never did that in the simulator!") and light on science (even with its answers to the questions of the universe). Yet it can still be a good trip, especially if you're looking to take your older children along for the ride.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Mission To Mars.
How do science fiction movies shape our attitudes about the future and space travel? In 1966, 2001—A Space Odyssey suggested we would be orbiting Jupiter by next year (this movie was made in 2000). Why have our expectations of space travel diminished over the last 34 years?
For current information on the latest happenings in space exploration, check NASA’s site at http://www.nasa.gov/news/