Escape from Mars (TV Movie 1999) Poster

(1999 TV Movie)

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Not bad . . . considering
da_man7 June 2001
For a low budget movie I didn't think this one was all that bad. I've seen worse, in fact I used this film to try to wash the horrible taste of Star Trek Insurrection out of my mouth. Compared to that, this is Dickens stacked against Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

However I am willing to admit that Escape from Mars has a few flaws. First and foremost the budget for special effects was about $6.50 plus what they could find in the change slot of local phone booths. This is probably what led most science fiction fans against this film. We're used to fantastic specials which create a real visual treat. To have that missing really hurts the film.

The second flaw is that the story, however realistic, is now standard for anyone who has read anything from the hard science genre. Whoever wrote this has obviously read Robinson and Bova as well as checked the NASA site every now and then. So I guess my complaint is that there were few surprises or new stuff.

Third is that the whole thing is shot on video which makes everything look cheap, like a news room set. There is little which looks realistic and one can feel a bit ripped off by the sets they have although I did notice a few nice touches in the background.

What saved this film in my opinion was the acting. Every actor in this film did a sterling job despite the problems. Many of us are used to some atrocious over-acting which is enough to make Jack Palance proud and me nauseous. Ironically it is the faults of this film which allow viewers to see what a hard job acting is. With limited special effects and poor sets you can see what normal actors see when they work. The large temptation is to over act but the entire cast bring out believable, human performances which is why I gave the film a 7.
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Scientific story sound, personal stories incomplete
travzila14 May 2000
The first manned mission to Mars is launched in 2015 (on my birthday, of all days!) and troublesome issues, both technical and personal, plague the crew.

While the scientific/technical problems reach their conclusions, you never really get the feeling the personal issues are there or sufficiently dealt with. "Escape from Mars" kept reminding me of the book "Mars Underground" by William K. Hartmann - scientifically strong, but lacking in good character development.

Don't expect to deeply care for the characters no matter how tender-hearted you are; you're just not given anything substantial (though the movie tries) to get emotional over.

It seems that there simply was too much too tell and too little movie to tell it all completely. Perhaps another hour would have permitted an adequate exploration of the inner-conflicts of each crew member. For those who mainly like sci-fi stories "Escape from Mars" rates well. At least, worth viewing once.
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You'll wish they stayed there
Leofwine_draca19 April 2015
ESCAPE FROM MARS is a low rent TV movie that feels hopelessly out of its depth when trying to portray a convincing picture of astronauts visiting Mars. It's a very typical, predictable kind of movie in which the storyline feels drawn out. We see the astronauts as they say goodbye to their loved ones, as they take off, as they travel through space, as they land on Mars, and then the inevitable escape.

The problem lies with the script, which presents these characters as the most boring people imaginable. There are no psychos on board, nobody loses control, instead they're all involved in cheesy family dramas and sentimental tripe. This should be a tense thriller that sees the crew battling technical issues and the like but for the most part the emphasis is on the non-existent human drama.

It doesn't help that the cast members put in the most routine performances imaginable and that there's an almost entire lack of incident so that the viewer is left twiddling his or her thumbs and waiting for things to kick off. Sadly, they never do.
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Not a bad "TV" movie, but not particularly good, either.
TxMike25 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS - The year is 2016 and a crew is going to Mars, for the first time, to explore enough to see if living there is feasible. Tiger Woods is president of the USA/Canada coalition. The launch looks normal, but a brief, non-isolatable glitch shows up and goes away. In spite of some fears, the "politically correct" move is to go forward. They have a brief problem mid-way, but ultimately make a smooth landing on Mars, piloted by Lia Poirier (Christine Elise). Later, she and the commander hold hands as they step together onto the surface, the first man and woman on Mars.

After a pretty interesting first half, mostly exciting stuff we know can happen, the second half of the movie deals with stuff no one knows about, on Mars, and most of it seemed contrived for the movie. Meteorite shower, "visions", miscellaneous electrical problems, death of a crewmember. Plus, Lia gets a message that her husband died in a car wreck, and the commander's wife is divorcing him.

There would not have been enough fuel and oxygen for the return trip, but with 20% of the crew gone, now they could go home. Right before, they discovered a cave with "phosphorescence", and a few drops of water, which means they found life on Mars. The movie ends with them blasting off Mars, and a brief narration by Lia about what future exploration might discover.

This movie is not as bad as some "reviewers" make it out to be. It was made to star Christine Elise, a cute and "buff" actress better known for her roles as a mental case on "Beverly Hills 90201" TV series, and as the friend of Shelly on one episode of "Northern Exposure." Although she is a competent actor, her "delivery" is just not very credible as a scientist and space pilot. As a result of their training, those kinds of people sound certain ways, and she just doesn't "sound" right. Jodie Foster, in "Contact" sounded right, "Denise Richards" in "The World Is Not Enough", did NOT sound right. And, in a movie like this, that makes a big difference in credibility.

Still, I rate it "5" of 10 for mild entertainment value.

By the way, my comment about Tiger Woods was just a joke, ignore it! :-)
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This movie was a pulse-pounding, thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride!
i_patton1 March 2001
That's what I would say if this movie had any redeemable merit whatsoever!

First, the good things: ....

Now the bad things: The acting was subpar, even for television. The script looked like they were winging it. The conflict did little to interest me, which doesn't say much for the lulls in the movie. The idea was completely unoriginal. Even the credits looked pasted together.

I'll elaborate. The conflict. I didn't feel, even for a second, any ounce of satisfaction or grip from anything this movie tried. Anything the movie attempted to do was undone by stupidity, and any progress the conflict made to the situation or the story was resolved in about five minutes, and everything was back to normal.

The characters were two-dimensional. None were distinguishable from the others in anything except for their jobs (one was a designer--that's all I could recall). Their character qualities were shifted around and changed so often, they had the consistency of water. I couldn't tell one character apart from any other aside from their looks, and even then I had a hard time.

How about the idea? It's been done to death. Mission to Mars and Red Planet both came out around the same time (maybe a little later) and both were by far this movie's superior.

This movie was just junk. You will NOT be satisfied, even if you're investing only your time. Avoid this at all costs. In fact, burn the copies you DO find. I don't want this movie EVER going around again!!! Possibly the worst thing I've seen. And I've seen bad.
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If you want special effects watch a Britney Spears concert
westpenn499 January 2002
When you compare this movie with Mission to Mars, in which Peter Outerbridge also appears, one sees that this product isn't that bad. First of all special effects, there arent' really any and I didn't miss them, but then I don't watch movies for special effects, I watch for human interactions and story. One effect plot device did bother me, on the way to Mars the ship (an oversize space shuttle)has these gyro appendages which spin, on the way back we don't see them being deployed (the originals were jettisoned when the reached mars) and I wondered why out and not back.

The acting was better than I expected, the actors just didn't have a of story to work with and the video made for a cheap look. Despite the flaws, I liked the people (although the Russian Casanova scene was very gratuitous and it certainly was more watchable than Dr. Who. It was nice that someone gave the concept a better budget and "remade" it as Mission to Mars, but in the end this one had as much story and was a better movie because it wasn't as pretentious. Of course the latter had more special effects than a Britney spears concert . . .
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Not much action in this boring movie
Hang_All_Drunkdrivers25 October 2004
International group goes to mars and gets hit by a meteor shower while there. That's about the whole plot as the story focuses mainly on how the characters interact. Some people may like that but that's not why i watch a sci-fi film. The star is christine elise who plays lia, one of the two commanders. Two commanders sounds like an oxymoron to me but that's what they do. She's a cute little thing and very watchable. There's a Russian guy adropov, who sounds just like chekhov in the old star trek TV show but unfortunately doesn't have chekhov's charm. A really nauseating joe cool clown who flirts with the girls all the time. The rest of the cast is strictly cardboard. A low budget movie that i rate as C-.
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Only bad, not terrible.
plan996 August 2017
This was not the worst Sci-Fi film I've ever seen but it probably is in my top ten of bad ones, I enjoy bad ones as much as good ones, except for certain very bad Star Wars efforts of course. It was over sentimental and gushy and the acting was not great but not too bad for a cheapy film. I was however amazed that the greatest discovery on Mars was not even mentioned by a single character. The Mars Beauty Salon did not get a mention, the establishment that kept the astronauts looking their very best, male and female, with never a hair out of place and makeup perfect. There must have also been one on their spaceship for the long journey as hair length remained constant and the men's chins un-troubled by stubble.
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thomasgulch24 June 2002
After the first few minutes when you realize the actors are wearing deep sea diving suits as space suits, you understand how dim witted this movie is. It is an insult.
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Good Film!
Movie Nuttball9 May 2005
Escape from Mars is a good film that has a good cast which includes Christine Elise, Peter Outerbridge, Allison Hossack, Michael Shanks, Ron Lea, Kavan Smith, David Kaye, Peter Kelamis, and Julie Khaner. The acting by all of these actors is very good. The thrills is really good and the action is incredible! The movie is filmed very good and the special effects are great. The music is good. Great The film is quite interesting and the movie really keeps you going until the end. This is a very good and thrilling film. If you like Christine Elise, Peter Outerbridge, Allison Hossack, Michael Shanks, Julie Khaner, the rest of the cast in the film, Sci-Fi, Action, Thrillers, Mystery, Dramas, and interesting films then I strongly recommend you to see this film today!
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Space mission on the cheap, Movie done cheaper!
Hap_N_Stance27 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers

As a Sci Fi fan I have to say this movie was robbed!!! I think the story had real possibilities if more money had been put into the production and a little more effort drawn out of the actors.

The premise is the first manned mission to Mars financed by some sort of international consortium for profit. (The idea of selling T-shirts and paraphernalia to finance a space mission is intriguing)

The crew ribs about doing the mission "on the cheap", by using second hand computers and equipment. Too bad the producers didn't take this into account when financing the movie. I paid $6.00 for the videotape, I only wish they had paid the screenwriter more than that.

Two stars.
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Spongebob, we have a problem!
imspamdb16 May 2004
OK, I'm only about 30 minutes into watching this on SciFi even as I type, and Tom Kenny is all over this thing! He has tons of screen time and lines up the wazoo, but he isn't credited! Watch for him on the quaint little launch control set as the "countdown guy". I guess he's supposed to be the capcom, but the launch director does most of the talking to the crew.

OK, I'd better get back to watching this delightfully high-cholesterol space-soap-opera.
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One of the best "Made For TV" SF movies in recent memory
wah_tze_tuya12 October 2003
The premise is not "fresh" but the science part is very well done. Asimov and Heinlein would both stand up in their graves and applaud Bova on the other hand, might wonder why he wasn't credited.

By far the best "Mars" movie of the times.
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Mew-mew12 August 2001
My advice: If you really, really, really can't avoid seeing it... see it in fast-forward mode. Shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes which is still too long for a movie like this. Dreadful simplistic dialogues and a predictable story. This movie offers little more excitement than doing the dishes. Surgeon's health warning: avoid seeing it. Unless you fancy a nice quiet coma every once in a while.
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pcrow13 July 2000
This was a dreadful movie.

There were a number of plot elements where they started developing something interesting, but then just dropped it.

The characters were totally unbelievable. They demonstrated none of the professionalism that extensive training for such a mission would develop. Instead, they felt more like a bunch of high school students who happened to know how to operate the equipment.
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Good to see a well done science fiction movie....
speaks21 January 2000
Good to see a science fiction movie run that tends toward "pure" sci fi. Reminded me of the Ben Bova book and the Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars series. The movie, like the books of this subject of visiting Mars, made clear the possible nightmarish situations and human conflicts that will arise when inhabitants of earth send their explorers to the red planet.
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Standard Network TV Cookie Cutter Sci-Fi
czhower10 September 1999
Don't go out of your way to watch this movie. If your bored and nothing else is on, it might be a decent gamble.

Of if you like really predictable bad sci-fi with mediocre actors.
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