The pacing makes it clear that much of the running time will be spent on the crew members in flight exchanging techno babble and attempted witticisms. There are some nice political touches such as when it's revealed that the Consortium is maintaining the mission's website with daily updates (including fake, computer-generated crew diaries on their behalf) and the continuing clear message from (the bargain basement set of) mission control that, despite repeated technical hitches, the priority is to reach Mars. Getting the crew back safely is secondary.
The claustrophobic format switches between shuttle crew member exchanges, shuttle/mission control exchanges and IMV (read CNN clone) footage that merely disseminates the propaganda fed it by the Consortium. Eventually, just as viewer patience is likely to collapse, they arrive on Mars. They capture their landmark moment for the bosses back home and then, oh my God!, they are trapped in a Martian storm and the shuttle is damaged and unless they can pull off a miracle (c'mon you guys!) they'll be soaking up the Sun's rays from the surface of the red planet in future. Despite the film's title, it's only the last fifteen minutes that deal with this aspect of the story. Given the inevitable limitations it was made under Escape from Mars isn't so bad, and at least they didn't waste a small fortune making it like others I could mention (and shall, Red Planet). 5/10
Rob Dyer (July 2003)
Mission To Mars
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