Acting so wooden it should burn up on re-entry, a story as thin as the atmosphere on Mars, and dialogue as monochrome as the color of Mars dust.
The first manned mission to Mars discovers a monolithic humanoid face sculpture on the surface, and triggers some kind of fatal security device which leaves only a single survivor, prompting a rescue mission that ultimately leads to the discovery of the Shocking Truth that aliens seeded the earth with DNA. Complete with the worst Grey Type Alien variant of 21st Century cinema, this film clearly tries for the epic quality of, say, “Space Odyssey” or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” yet the characters do not engage, the tragedies do not evoke any emotional response, the wonder and awe is stiff and unconvincing, and the film is devoid of any of the otherworldly character of those older classics. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack tries to lend the proceedings a spooky alien quality yet manages to make the movie sound like a bad western.
Tim Robbins has made some great movies (“Hudsucker Proxy,” “Mystic River,” “The Shawshank Redemption”) but this is not one of them. He makes an uninspiring co lead, clumsily hamming up his perfect couple marriage (lipkisses at the barbecue; bad 80s song dancing in zero gravity) in order to set the stage for his Big Tragic Moment later in the movie. Gary Sinise looks every bit the B actor, grimacing dramatically as he wallows in his torturous tragic past, struggling to prove that He Can Still Do It.
The rest of the cast are completely forgettable, as is the movie.