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The movie itself is, as you can guess, about a mission to Mars. The astronauts, Jim (Commander, played by Gary Sinise), Terri (Connie Nielsen), Woody (Tim Robbins) and Phil (Jerry O'Connell) are sent to find out what happened to the first expedition to Mars which sent a garbled Distress Call. They encounter a lot of challenges, including some in flight turbulence... in space! Where they have to do a perilous EVA repair. Mars itself is a treacherous planet, and the survivors of the previous expedition are not what they expected.
Where it gets interesting are the visuals, which only get more impressive once they realize that there once was intelligence on Mars.
This work features examples of:
- And the Adventure Continues...
- Artificial Gravity: The gang had a lot of fun when they turned it off, so they could dance Zero-G style!
- Avoid the Dreaded PG Rating: Averted; despite a sequence where an astronaut is literally ripped apart by a powerful dust storm vortex, in all its bloody stumpage, the film still somehow got slapped with a family-friendly PG (although the film itself does not share that demographic).
- Bigger on the Inside: The Face is pretty big on the outside too.
- Bittersweet Ending: The crew gets to go home but one of them goes with the alien.
- Distress Call
- Ghost Planet
- Hollywood Science
- Innocent Innuendo: Much fun is had at the expense of a guy who refers to himself as a "Stick Jockey".
- Heroic Sacrifice: Poor Woody takes off his helmet, rather than watch his wife make pointless attempts to save him, and possibly doom herself at the same time.
- Look Behind You!: Done in a spooky way, TWICE!
- Oh Crap: Many instances.
- Only Point Two Percent Different: The puzzle in the face on Mars involving human DNA.
- This movie has several DNA failures. In that scene, a character says, "That DNA looks human!" while looking at a few base pairs. out of a few billion.
- And another scene has a character displaying his "dream woman" who, apparently, consists of only a few base pairs again.
- Precursors: The aliens.
- The Red Planet
- Sanity Slippage: The sole survivor of the Mars disaster, who had his entire crew perish in front of him and spent a whole year trapped on Mars alone. His reaction to seeing Jim is to scream "YOU CAN'T BE HERE!" and attack him, clearly thinking that he's finally lost his mind.
- Space Is Cold
- Space Is Noisy
- Tragic Keepsake: The Flash Gordon necklace.