112 user 25 critic

Approaching the Unknown (2016)

2:25 | Trailer
A U.S. astronaut prepares for a mission to Mars.
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Strong ... William D. Stanaforth
Luke Wilson ... Louis 'Skinny' Skinner (CapCom)
Sanaa Lathan ... Emily Maddox
Anders Danielsen Lie ... Greenstreet
Charles Baker ... Worsely
Steven Brower Steven Brower ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
Stephanie Gould Stephanie Gould ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
Franziska Lamprecht Franziska Lamprecht ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
Amanda Larson Amanda Larson ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
Whit K. Lee Whit K. Lee ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage (as Whitney Lee)
St. John McKay St. John McKay ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
James O'Connell James O'Connell ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
Michael O'Connell Michael O'Connell ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
Clare O'Connell Clare O'Connell ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage
Neel Patel Neel Patel ... Featured in Civilian Astronaut Footage


Captain William Stanaforth is on a one-way solo mission to take the first steps in colonizing Mars. Like all pioneers throughout history, Stanaforth will face insurmountable odds and life and death decisions as he rockets bravely through space.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The movie certification number is #88888. See more »


Scenes are shown that are supposed to be of the Atacama Desert in Chile/Bolivia.

However, the vegetation shown makes it clear that the scene was filmed in Southern California. See more »


William D. Stanaforth: Nothing has ever lived here. Nothing has ever died here. Maybe I'll live forever.
See more »

User Reviews

A brilliant reflection on human nature. Not for everyone...
21 June 2016 | by hoffmannthoSee all my reviews

After seeing this movie, I was really thrilled and thought I had seen something worth seeing. Yet I can also understand why many other don't feel that way. This movie doesn't aim to please all audiences, it really targets a specific group of viewers you may or may not be part of.

As other reviewers already stated: if you're looking for an action-packed sci-fi or anticipation movie, move along because this one is not for you. If you're looking for an uplifting, Hollywood-style feel good movie... move along. If you're after great landscapes of Mars and big spaceships roaming about, you should also probably look for other movies. Yet this movie has a lot going for it, as long as you realize what you're in for:

This is a story about a character who is willing to leave everything behind for the greater good, for science and for the slim chance of becoming the first human on Mars. The whole movie is basically a "huis clos", a closed stage in a cramped vessel, where you follow a single individual during his journey of 270 days in space, alone. He has to fight boredom, madness and growing technical issues he is partly responsible for due to his overconfidence and his belief that he can solve everything on his own. He also has to cope with the burden of the entire humanity back on Earth cheering for him and placing the highest expectations on his shoulders. Yet he's just a man. Hopes, successes, failures... They are all part of the journey, and the lead character confronts each in a very believable way.

Acting is spot on (bravo Mark Strong), and the reactions never feel alien or unrealistic. FX are good enough, but this movie doesn't rely on them heavily at all.

There is one very big leap of faith the audience is supposed to make: I find it highly dubious for various reasons that humanity would send a single person on such a long journey without backup: way too dangerous. Yet if you're willing to go with it, you'll find this movie to picture a very believable analysis of human nature when confronted to loneliness, various pressures and challenging situations.

All in all, this movie is more of a psychological approach of long journeys in isolation and adversity, rather than a sci-fi/anticipation movie on colonizing Mars.

I would definitely recommend this movie to those among you who like slow-paced, "psychological" movies such as (with some similarities): - Solaris (2002) - 2001 Space odyssey - Silent running - Das Boot (in some ways) - 127 hours (in some ways) - The survivalist (in some ways)

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Release Date:

3 June 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Approaching the Unknown See more »

Filming Locations:

Hudson Valley, New York, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,476, 5 June 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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