By EW Staff
Updated February 11, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
Gary Sinise, Mission to Mars
Credit: ILM
  • Movie

So what is Robbins — political activist, serious actor, and agitprop auteur — doing in a popcorn flick about a troubled trip to the angry red planet? ”My kids have been wanting me to do anything in which I have an opportunity to have a little doll made,” says Robbins, who’s long wanted to act in an action-adventure with smarts.

But he may have picked ”too” smart for his kids; De Palma’s NASA-endorsed production is so steeped in space-travel science, it’s more likely to spawn telescopes than toys. Still, Sinise assures us there are thrills aplenty. ”It really combines the science of ‘2001’ and the emotion of ‘Apollo 13,”’ says Sinise, who starred in the latter. ”If we spent all our time explaining how we got there, the movie would be 10 hours long.”

Hustling to beat Warner Bros.’ similarly themed ”Red Planet” to theaters, De Palma actually finished ahead of schedule. None of that pressure was felt by the actors, but they did have other things to sweat through, like stifling-hot space suits and the nauseating wirework required to simulate zero gravity. While Sinise survived the special effects by tapping his ”Apollo 13” astronaut training, Robbins says his own prior experience with F/X was limited to the infamous 1986 flop, ”Howard the Duck.” Wow, Tim, most people have forgotten you were in that. What possessed you? ”Oh, why did I even bring it up? Let’s not even talk about it.” BUZZ FACTOR: 7

Go to the official website.

Mission to Mars

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 107 minutes
  • Brian De Palma