This is a movie that you watch and think, wow, imagine if this worked. To be honest, if this movie didn't have the issue's it had, this might be one of the greatest sci-fi films ever. But it's problems just absolutely crush that chance. I think the biggest issue is by far its pacing. Its not necessarily the tone, I would argue the tone doesn't actually shift that much. In fact the tone, along with the effects hold Mission to Mars as it is from being utter garbage. I like the feeling of space and mars incorporated through the brilliant soundtrack by legendary Ennio Morricone and visuals. But unfortunately, effects an tones have to be built around at least one of the following: a cohesive plot, interesting characters or a great experience. The plot is extremely messy, as I'll get into that, the characters are not even expanded upon, and not even acted that well (you can tell that these actors would work much better with better scripts) but I will say the film is at its peak when there is an attempt to show an experience and not the plot or character moments. When they are attempting to land on mars, I find this scene to not only be riveting but beautifully shot. Bad characters aren't the worse, especially in this case when they aren't annoying, but if you have bad characters then do a 2001 route and focus on the experience and point (or have one great robot character). Because it doesn't go this route, Mission to Mars become much more reliant on the likability of characters and engaging plot. Without those two things, the movie is really affected. The plot is what really affects the movie to me. You could tell De Palma, an accomplished director, had really lost his vision due to the script. The script not only led to terrible characters, but a mess of a plot. At first you think it might just be a film about survival, but quickly you realize it isn't when they land on Mars. Personally I think the ending to the film might have, at one point, worked. In fact if some body told me what happened, I might think its alright. But it is done awfully in the film. There is so much missing, and the discovery of the alien feels cheap (especially when the alien just look so stereotypical with crap CGI). The film was never indicating a twist like this would happen, and although I think they were indicating there is extraterrestrial life, but it was indicating some bad form, like an evil alien. Like when they crash, The damaged leak looked suspiciously like a scratch mark, so I thought the alien was tracing them or something. The music indicated something was there to. I feel like the ideas of the plot are different each act. ACT 1 - The movie is about trying to survive in mars, succeed the mission ACT 2 - This movie is about trying to find the extraterrestrial life, which is acting unpredictable ACT 3 - This movie is about meeting our creators and superiors, be good in mankind's eyes. To me, both ACT 2 and ACT 3 suck, one big reason being that they are in the same movie. ACT 3 is just ridiculous and makes you want to slap your face. ACT 2's idea has promise, but the characters talk to much in a boring manner that really drains the tension. The first act had a similar issue into until they actually got to travelling to mars when the ship was damaged, as it was tension fueled and a bit sad, although not tear jerking by any means. The whole extraterrestrial idea being discovered to me is neat, but it is almost ignored to these boring characters and frankly terrible finale. In conclusion, this movie could potentially have been good. With a director like Brian De Palma behinds the helms, we could have got a great tension filled atmospheric movie, but instead the script makes this mostly boring with terrible characters, a ridiculous plot that loses you when it needs to grab your attention, and save for the travel to mars, a movie that is technically great but not worth anyone's time or money.