Mission to Mars (2000)

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Released 29-Nov-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary-S Burum (DoP), J Knoll (VFx Sup), E Verreaux et al
Featurette-Visions Of Mars
Featurette-The Vortex
Featurette-Leaving The Ship
Featurette-Evolution Sequence
Featurette-Animatics To Scene Comparisons (2)
Gallery-Production Art
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 108:55
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Brian De Palma

Warner Home Video
Starring Gary Sinise
Don Cheadle
Connie Nielsen
Jerry O'Connell
Kim Delaney
Tim Robbins
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Ennio Morricone

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, at start of credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The year is 2020 and a team of astronauts are about to be sent to explore the surface of Mars. The team reaches Mars and starts their exploration. They notice a strange formation at the top of a rocky outcrop. The team radios back to Earth to inform base camp what they are going to investigate. Shortly thereafter, Earth receives a garbled message that clearly shows the team is in trouble, and then all communication is lost.

    A plan for a rescue mission is formulated and another team of astronauts is dispatched to Mars. This team consists of Woody Blake (Tim Robbins), Jim McConnell (Gary Sinise), Terri Fisher (Connie Nielsen) and Phil Ohlmyer (Jerry O'Connell).

    The rest of the movie is about the rescue team's journey to Mars and what they find when they get there. It is worth listening out for Phil's classic line at 98:12 and another witty comment at 35:36.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The words brilliant, phenomenal and magnificent instantly spring to mind when describing the picture detail and sharpness. The foreground detail is just superb and the background detail isn't far behind. This excellent background detail isn't because of the transfer, but because of the split focus lenses that were used during the filming of many scenes which allowed both the foreground and background to stay in focus. The shadow detail is excellent and no low-level-noise or edge bleeding was noticed. The writing in the opening credits appears to have had some minor edge enhancement applied to it, but since it only affects the writing it is inconsequential. No other instances of edge enhancement were noticed.

    The colour was exemplary - beautifully saturated, rich and vibrant when required to be. The reds of Mars are superb and skin tones are perfect.

    Grain? Grain? Not a single occurrence was seen. I cannot remember the last DVD that was this grain free.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. The superb sharpness of this transfer does, however, lead to some minor aliasing and moiré artefacts. There is a more serious artefact at 5:44 - 5:55 which is very noticeable and does degrade the picture quality. Other examples of minor moiré effects are at 1:47 - 2:21, 13:04 and 25:18 - 25:22. I expect most of the minor artefacts would disappear when a Progressive Scan DVD player is used.

    There is a light sprinkling of film artefacts. They were always small and reasonably unobtrusive.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 20 and 21, at 75:40 on a fade to black. The sound also dies away to nothing so the layer change is totally transparent. Layer change placement just doesn't get any better than this.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; a 384Kb/s English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a 192Kb/s French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack and a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo commentary track. I listened to the default Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and then to the commentary soundtrack.

    The dialogue was extremely clear and easy to understand and well integrated throughout the entire film. Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    Ennio Morricone's musical score suits the movie well, as it adds to or enhances the on-screen action.

    The surround channels were used frequently to create a good sound envelope. Directional effects and precise sound placement within the sound field were the norm rather than the exception...excuse me while I just get out of my space suit.

    The subwoofer is used frequently to subtly add bass and is reasonably active during some of the more dramatic sequences.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is a very good selection of extras present, but what is more impressive is the quality of all the extras. Apart from The Matrix, I cannot remember ever seeing a DVD with the extras all being of this quality.


    The Menus are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The menu selections are; Chapter Selection (28), Set Up, Bonus Material and Play.

Audio Commentary-Ed Verreaux (Production Designer), Stephen H. Burum (Director of Photography), John Knoll (Visual Effects Supervisor) and Hoyt Yeatman (Visual Effects Supervisor)

    This commentary features Ed Verreaux (Production Designer), Stephen H. Burum (Director of Photography), and the Visual Effects Supervisors John Knoll and Hoyt Yeatman. Each appears in a different location across the front soundstage. There is continual dialogue throughout the entire commentary which concentrates on the technical aspects of making the movie, as opposed to the acting and the actors. A lot of time is spent describing the sets, props, filming, equipment used and integrating the visual effects, all of which is very informative and interesting, but due to the technical nature of the material some may find it a little dry. There are a few short pauses, but none last very long. The signing off of the commentators is by far the best I have ever heard, commencing at 101:25.

Featurette - Original Documentary (20:58)

    This is of excellent quality, and is basically an extended promotional piece for the movie, with some behind-the-scenes details. Interviews are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and the movie footage in a non-16x9 enhanced 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with a 192kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack.

Featurette - Visual Effects Analysis (3 - 5:08 minutes)

    There are three scenes, each with an accompanying audio commentary. The picture quality is excellent.

Featurette - Animatics-to-Scene Comparisons (2 - 20:04 minutes)

    There are two scenes, Losing Woody and The Planetarium, each having an animatic version (the way the scene was envisaged to look) and how the scene finally looked. The animatic scenes are presented in the non-16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with a 192kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. The final scenes are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but are 16x9 enhanced with a 384Kb/s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The quality is again excellent.

Production Art Gallery (120 pictures)

    The Production Art Gallery is broken up into six sections; Abandoning Ship (8), In Space (15), Mars Landscape (16), Martian (24), The Face (46) and Vortex (11). The picture shown in the background on the menu depends on which section is highlighted.

Theatrical Trailer (2:15 minutes)

    The Theatrical Trailer is of very good quality, presented in the 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with a 192kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. There is some minor grain and aliasing present.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     I could not confirm if our disc has been encoded for Dolby Digital 5.1 EX playback or not.

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    There isn't any compelling reason to purchase one disc over the other, so it will come down to your own personal preference. For me, the R4 disc is an easy choice, as I cannot stand the reduced picture resolution and the 3:2 pull-down artefacts associated with the NTSC format.


    In a word, Mission To Mars is excellent. I particularly enjoyed how the emphasis is placed on the characters and not the special effects, not that they weren't spectacular in themselves. The movie is presented on a superb DVD.

    The video transfer of this movie is excellent, but is not reference quality because of moiré artefacts that are induced by the superb sharpness.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    There is a very good selection of extras, but what is more impressive is the quality of all the extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Wednesday, December 06, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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