I owe more to my life path to Jerry O’Connell than I realize. In my effort to upgrade all my VHS tapes to DVD’s, I grabbed this one the other day. It was a favorite back in high school. One of the main reasons I watched it in the first place was that I was a huge fan of Jerry O’Connell, because of his role in Sliders. Sliders was my absolute favorite show for a very long time (I’ve actually been rewatching it recently as work background noise). That was my first big intro to sci-fi, a genre I’d mostly ignored up until that point, and couldn’t get enough of after.
So why was Jerry responsible for where I ended up? It’s because of movies like Mission to Mars that I wanted to go into aerospace engineering, which is why I went to MIT and where the big ball of destiny started rolling for me. Even if I didn’t actually end up in aero/astro. The dream job during that period was to work on Mission Control for NASA. Movies like this one suggested that maybe space itself wasn’t the safest place, but there were still ways I could be a part of it.
It’s easily well over a decade since I’ve seen this. So much of it came rushing back as I was watching. Lines of dialog I’d long forgotten rolled off my tongue in sync with the actors. That old crush on Jerry came back too, esp since his Phil was quite the science nerd (*swoon*). It’s a pretty formulaic everything-is-going-wrong space exploration movie, but as with most subgenres, the one you discover first tends to be the one you hold dearest.
So dear in fact that I forgot one key issue with the film: the ending is absolutely terrible. It makes no sense whatsoever and tries to make this whole epic statement that’s really just dumb. I get that’s the one thing that’s meant to differentiate it from the other films in the subgenre, but I’ll take the generic that’s only accentuated by good characters. Because I do like them (the cast also includes Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, and Don Cheadle). I guess it doesn’t really matter. Now that we have The Martian, there’s really no need to ever watch any other movie about Mars ever again.