Passage to Mars (2016) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
25 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Loaded with magic and si-fi references. Stylish and powerful.
francisemos11 October 2016
If you're a space buff - as I am - this is for you! This doc is out of this world. Super loaded with hidden references and wrapped with pure beauty. Not sure NASA realized what the filmmakers did - I guess it was approved - but the film breaks out from the formatted genre and takes it to a new level: complex and emotional narration, dimensional layers, both in storytelling and visually (the back and forth between Earth and Mars are stunning and so smartly executed).

The director definitely pushed the envelop. To a point that it's hard to call it a documentary. It's a movie, tracking with an impossible true-life road trip - and it's the first movie of this kind I see.

Watched it twice to make up my mind. First I was just got caught up, blending in the Arctic and other crazy shots (spectacular). Then got deeper into the reflection. Powerful. This film stays with you like a great wine.
148 out of 155 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Magnificent and complex, innovative filmmaking. Very entertaining.
barbaralew11 October 2016
Director Jeauffre uses the fascinating landscape and the quest of a NASA crew to create an unusual tale of poetry, cinematography and humanity.

A festival of subtle sensations and mind-blowing thoughts on our place in the universe. The blend of action, suspense and scary moments with ethereal drift into the unknown, both on Earth and Mars, makes you feel you are on board this epic extraterrestrial adventure.

Balance of nature is restored in this refined, lavish film. Complex, much is hiding under the ice layers, beneath the apparent bold Arctic-Martian road trip: references to our past as a species of explorers, the fine line between science and fiction (smart references to HG Wells - and the haunting voices from O. Welles famous 'War of the Worlds' radio show, Neil Armstrong, JFK... resonate in space discretely like from drifting radio waves. Ray Bradbury, through a moving voice appearance by Charlotte Rampling, quoting over Mars river beds ghostly Martian reflections.

"Passage to Mars", beneath and above the icy crusts of its alien worlds, celebrate a once lost spirit of adventure. More, much more than a "doc" about a NASA endeavor, the film reflects on our capacity to go beyond our natural frontiers to search for crucial answers, in a beautiful concert of emotions that all of us can connect with. Magnificent.
141 out of 149 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
As an astronaut, I give two thumbs up. Striking doc. The real deal.
spaceclervoy7 October 2016
I'm an astronaut. Flew several times to the ISS. I love this film. It's the real stuff. A suspense winner in Arctic adventure and a lesson for future humans on Mars. The goal, the team and the engagement are key. Such battle against the Arctic cold and harsh terrain is definitely the gate to getting ready for Mars expeditions I wish I were there with them feeling like on Mars with its challenges, doubts and joy. On this tough journey in the Arctic we feel like being already on Mars. it's tough, it's cold, it's unknown...

The film translates so well the reality of being on a confined space travel. We don't speak, we survive, we plan, we think, we hope and we work. We think of home. A very rare film. Striking.
122 out of 129 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
If you need 90 minutes on another planet, watch this!
jamesparks-865989 October 2016
Astonishing documentary. Hard to call it "documentary" though. Let's say a film, a tale, documenting a NASA adventure. It's more than a doc, as it triggers emotions and appeals to our imagination, senses. It's an experience, with a complex narrative mode (the voice by Zachary Quinto is the actual expedition's journals). if it had been in 3D, the immersion would have been complete. The characters are simple guys, obviously unwilling to fake the usual TV reality shows dramas. They get along, do the job - you feel the humility and the tension as they face the predicaments of merciless Arctic milieu. The whole goal of the expedition is fascinating: a 2,000 miles crossing on the sea ice on board an experimental Humvee to simulate a Martian long range road trip. Great concept both for a scientific experiment and a movie. if you need 90 minutes on another planet, just watch this!
115 out of 122 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Brilliant, fun and magnetic.
derrickgomez10 October 2016
We are now so much immersed into science fiction and fantasy material that we've lost touch with real space adventure. Passage to Mars gives us a glimpse at it. This NASA expedition is not only how we prepare for our Martian treks. it explores why. Why we must go there. And this is when the movie really takes off for me, playing with jaw-dropping concepts about extraterrestrial life and our own small existence. Out of this Arctic survival trip, jumping from Earth to Mars, the film becomes almost a dream, driving through ethereal Arctic snow and at times drifting Martian sands.

Quinto's narration is right and subtle, reading the original "shiplog" of the Okarian, the experimental Humvee-rover. The film successfully accomplishes the most important thing: capturing our imagination, keeping us intrigued constantly. Brilliant and immersive. Beautiful and inspired!
114 out of 121 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Stunning and sometimes scary. A invitation to explore.
jessmeyer-613736 October 2016
Saw this doc. with my two young sons on a big screen. I had the feeling to really take them to another planet. What we loved is that it's a real adventure. The landscape, the story, the narration, and above all, those actual images of Mars that I had never seen before. The film took me off guard. I din't know what to expect. The style is both cutting edge and classic. Classic because the story telling reminded me of some old epic adventure movies. This expedition journals, keep you on track with dates, temperatures and locations with amazing, beautiful animated maps, adding to the feeling of being on board with these NASA guys. The Mars imagery is stunning (I wish there were more, it's just fascinating), but after all, they are preparing the Martian journey here, on Earth, in what seems to be the next most hostile environment after Mars: the high Arctic. Also, loved the characters. They don't speak much, they are in their world, and we are invited to share their world. You learn many things about Mars and yet, what stays with you, is the beauty and the mystery of it all. It makes you want to go there, to be an explorer. Stunning and sometimes scary. Just bought it again on Amazon for the kids.
105 out of 112 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You are on board with the crew, immersed. Incredible documentary. See it on the big screen if you can!
dukejrod6 October 2016
What a fantastic movie! It had me on the edge of my seat right from the beginning. Plus, those incredibly beautiful shots. This doc sounds and looks like a fiction (neat cinematography and sound), but this is the real deal. A true-life adventure. Thought-provoking, epic, haunting. The film stays with long after. The narration is unusual. Zachary Quinto reads the expedition log of NASA mission leader (Pascal Lee) as he would write it out loud. Purely engaging and intriguing. The parallel journey between the Arctic and Mars is very subtle and brings those worlds together in an almost surreal manner. There is more poetry than science - even though you learn bunch of new things about Mars. You are on board with the crew, immersed. Incredible documentary. See it on the big screen if you can!
113 out of 121 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A thought provoking film with a vision.
lcollinsbabe6 October 2016
Surprisingly good. I'm not a fan of documentary genre, but this one is so different. It has guts, depth, vision. It's a journey, and they take you with them from start to finish, with fierce. Quinto is just great.He delivers a a fine, complex performance, reading the original log of the expedition leader. Making the narration quite different from the classic voice over films. This is one of the film's highlights. It creates a solid emotional bound with the viewer. He delivers a very subtle, low key and at times moving performance. We are so far from the Discovery Channel reality show crap when they give you those fake/staged human conflicts. Here it's all more real. As it must be on a NASA journey. Music is great and the Mars and Arctic landscapes are jaw-dropping. Compelling and very original in the directing. A must see!!
109 out of 118 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Unusual, optimistic. Great!
ernestsalvatori7 October 2016
Well, in these last 2 0r 3 decades, I thought the spirit of adventure had died. On the field as well as on screen. The times of Cousteau were gone and the excitement of exploration, curiosity, gone with him and a few others who had showed us a new path. At least, that's what my childhood had been made of. Passage to Mars proves me wrong. This spirit is still alive.Not this adventure of man struggling against wilderness, but adventure with a purpose. Here, to cross 2,000 miles of Arctic sea ice to bring to an isolated NASA outpost a rover, and train for Mars exploration. Starting as an icy road movie, the film transforms the experience into an immersive extra- terrestrial journey, at times ethereal and fascinating, where both the whiteout and Martian storms merge. You learn a lot of new things about Mars, and especially why we have to go there: the quest for life. Another life. But what kind of life awaits behind those Martian fogs?

The pace is quite perfect. From high speed action to slower moments of silent landscapes on Earth and on Mars. You don't really get to know the crew members. However, you feel you share their journey, right with them, aboard the Humvee. The film delivers an optimistic message beyond it's entertaining quality, and poses some crucial questions about our very existence. We loved it.
105 out of 114 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Arty and outside the box. Breaking documentary rules. Inspiring.!
kristinapaget10 October 2016
Loved the elements in this film, the snow, the ice, the wind, the glittering stars passing by when we travel through space, the Mars sand dunes, the storms, the red dust... The sounds, or the quietness of it all, in space or on the ice. A film calling for our senses. including fear.

Very spectacular and magnetic. It won't please everybody, cause this doc. breaks many rules and might confuse the routine of some viewers. It's nothing like the classic, formatted TV doc. It's a "movie movie" of its own, arty and outside the box.

I loved it. Very sensible and inspirational. Some science, not much, just enough for me. Enough to understand I actually knew very little about Mars (there's is not only water there, but snow, four seasons, and a day last 24 hour like here, a dust storm can cover the entire planet... But above all, there might be life there, and that's what we are looking for).

but the science is not what stays with you for days after. You just don't watch the sky in the same manner. You feel very small. But you feel puzzled to be surrounded by so much life, when there is so little of it all around Earth. Very sensible and inspiring movie.
111 out of 121 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Passage between science and fiction. Beautiful!
billmersh15 October 2016
Passage to Mars is one of the best documentaries on space exploration matters I have seen in years. Actually, no... It's not a documentary. And here is why...

The film qualities are countless: astonishing cinematography, editing, scoring and innovative narration style (for a documentary, using the voice over as the expedition's leader diaries vs a usual "witness narrator", was a great path).

But beyond a cinematic successful enterprise - or, perhaps, because of it - the film manages to take you to other worlds.

Beyond the "road movie" - a NASA 2,000 mile - never before attempted sea ice crossing - this trek is a fable, almost an allegory, by the poetry blending with ethereal landscapes where our own thoughts get unleashed and free to reflect on our own existence and the very meaning of our destiny. Here, in space, or anywhere.

The way Passage to Mars ventures into unknown territories (the Arctic and Mars), it can barely be categorized in the documentary genre. Just call it a film, that's what it is. An artistic exploration of the unknown and of our deepest soul.

"Why do we Explore?", to quote the film, is what the film is about. And I loved it, beyond the spectacular and entertaining quality of the film. Makes your mind roving.

Passage to Mars is, to me, a Passage between Science (the NASA expedition) and Fiction (our destiny in space and on Mars). So, perhaps, this is the purest science fiction film you can find this month.
76 out of 83 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not just hard adventure. It's about our place in the universe. Entertaining.
sarafink10 October 2016
A Mars-Arctic road movie that blows your imagination. A miracle for a science documentary. Usually those bore me a bit. i clicked with this one right away. I was almost sure I would leave the room (my friend downloaded this on iTunes). Watched the first 5 minutes, then 10, 20... Couldn't let it go. Something hypnotic about it.

Trying to think what it was... The story? OK, even though it's a classic dangerous trek in the wilderness, this one is very different. The goals and series of incidents... The landscapes, Arctic and Martian are definitely what grabs you (the sound of it, the silence as well) - the crew: these guys a super low key but that what makes it worthy: they leave room for you to get on board and journey with them!!

the music, for sure, but at the end I think it's the narration and the way these diaries catch your emotion and though process. It's not only about hard adventure, it's about our place in the universe. that is what definitely got me on board.
93 out of 103 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Exciting, strangely poetic road movie
samuelstein10 October 2016
Filmmakers and NASA explorers take us to the remote corners of Earth and Mars.

A Humvee, the Okarian, must cross 2,000 miles on frozen ocean to reach a NASA outpost where they train to explore the red planet!

It's real, I had no idea such a place even existed. so we're on a road trip. Dangerous, uncertain. The ship seems no match for the challenge, but the crew never gives up.

What got me here is the immersive poetry of the film, taking our mind to remote places of our imagination. This film is no so much about Mars than about ourselves and our vivid curiosity for the unknown. Stunning.
101 out of 116 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Very unusual and intriguing. A must see.
alanbriggssf26 December 2016
If you expect the discovery or Nat Geo type of format, this one will confuse you. It's a million light years away in spirit.

It's a tale turned to mystery and beauty, celebrating exploration. More poetic than scientific, the film explores more why we want to go to Mars than how (which has been explained over and over again in many other docs.)

The excitement here comes from the mind-blowing beauty of two worlds, and a tiny crew of humans trying to make a bridge between.

You will learn more about what makes us go out there than what's out there. Despite the lack of the usual human drama we expect to get in these real-life adventure docs, we feel close enough to the crew and confined with them to feel immersed and part of the crew.

What is most striking is the back and forth Arctic/Mars, a journey within the journey. I understand why this film is so praised by space community. As for me, the ethereal feel made it all. Fascinating.
35 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not a science doc. A cinematic journey about our destiny in space. Great.
magalidanielsny10 January 2017
Watched it twice. I've been told that Space community and explorers love it. They say it's not only the real deal, but it's inspiring. I'm no scientist, but I'm a Si-Fi geek, and this documentary travels far and captures your imagination. I feel the director is not a scientist either but more of a romantic, talented adventurer filmmaker (course, he's French!).

So, don't expect to get the usual science documentary, with a conventional voice over, pace and format. PASSAGE' is a different animal. It's a personal, magnificent tribute to exploration and a great piece of cinema. It is pure cinema (powerful shots, impressive smart editing and sound create a vivid, sensualist experience). The film does take you to Mars and to the Arctic, in a stunning, almost ethereal manner.

Before getting on my review, I was curious to see what other people thought of it. I'm definitely on the side of those who got touched by the film's super rich flavors, emotions and cinematic impact.

Some said "nothing happens" or wrote some hateful reviews. Yep, Passage' is definitely not everybody's stuff and sometimes "nothing happens" in some people's mind, or let's say that you have to love movies and Si-Fi to love this one.

Passage has greatness and is so entertaining.... If your brain and heart click with its space waves!
29 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great surprise. Unconventional and powerful.
mikechino26 January 2017
This film surpassed my expectations. I'm not a documentary guy, but I was researching on NASA and Mars and everybody pointed me to PASSAGE TO MARS.

First, I was completely confused by the style, very unconventional (narration, editing, pace, the surprising layers connecting with science fiction, literature, history and even philosophy), and then I got subjugated, hypnotized by the surreal atmosphere.

It's not a doc, but a tale of beauty, mystery. Almost an allegory about space exploration and Man facing the unknown.

I read many critics, some excellent, other nasty. The latest ones reflect, in my opinion, formatted minds who can't deal with something breaking away from the usual hyper academic conventions of the genre.

This film is clearly an indie film, a transgressor. It is superbly shot, smartly structured and very inspirational.

21 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Boring and disappointing
zaltman_bleros29 December 2018
Very disappointing documentary of a crew going through the North passage in the Arctic to Devon island (where they set up a Mars camp) to recreate a Mars style expedition. What almost put me to sleep was Zachary Quinto (the new Spock). His voice is extremly monotonous, he's no Leonard Nimoy that's for sure. He narrates on behalf of the crew or leader of the expedition. We see no interviews with any of the crew which I think was a missed opportunity. No interviews with Nasa people or Mars specialists. They went for a celebrity as a narrator. Also I found the narration and the music/songs used to be overdramatic and at times laughable (do humvees dream of diesel sheep? ... ugh). I think this would have worked better as a 50 minute documentary on National Geographic instead of 90 minutes of boredom. Skip it, there are better documentaries about Mars out there. This adds nothing new. But do watch if you can't sleep. You'll doze off in no time.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Impressive multi-layer film. Cinematic.
jessicaelbe20 March 2017
This film is smart, deep and multi-layered. Beyond the very cinematic qualities of this Passage to Mars, so immersive, Zachary Quinto's complex narration brings a subtle, strong human texture. The filmmakers took a risky and unconventional path, breaking away from the laws of the genre: here the narrator is not a "third party" commenting on the action, but embodies the main film character, NASA expedition leader, reading the ship log as he writes it along the journey.

PASSAGE is not a a "main stream" documentary formatted to follow broadcast commercials interruption, but definitely a real movie made for the big screen. Sound, image and pace drag you into the action. You are there with the crew. On that level, this is more than a documentary. The film is a compelling directorial accomplishment. Which maybe the the downside of the film, as a documentary. As the film obviously benefits a director's vision and an epic quality, I'm not sure small TV screens, phones, computers could translate the original, genuine cinematic format of the movie.

So, if you decide to see the film, forget ALL your previous documentary experience. This is not it.

This is subtle, poetic, innovative. This is about why humans want to explore, not a Discovery Channel "truck" reality show.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Artificially dramatic
muraveill22 October 2016
Frozen landscapes and views of dead Martian rocks are beautiful - so are they on YouTube; the comparison, although not new, was not a bad idea, but that is about all.

All right, it is supposed to simulate what explorers of the planet mars can expect to live through. But every picture of Mars this movie shows is about red dust in a cold rocky desert, and you'd expect NASA to plan its space expeditions a little better.

I found the movie extremely boring due to the background commentary from a member of the crew telling us every minute how the crew risks to die at every instant. After all, *they* decided to cross the arctic at the wrong season and at the most dangerous place without a backup plan, so they better either be enthusiastic about it or not go. It makes me think of all these horror movies where a family goes purposely spend a week in a haunted house just to see if they can make it out, except these don't sound depressed before even entering the house.

Is is even a documentary or a survival drama? Where is the suspense if a technical problem happens: they have about a week to fix their low-budget van, you know the film stops if the cameraman sinks, and you do want this voice to sink anyway so that you can finally admire the gorgeous landscapes in the natural silence these people went to disturb.
10 out of 70 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A minority sport
js-2102622 December 2016
Granted all those nice and exciting things as mentioned by other viewers (e.g. astronauts, engineers etc), but this is not even within a mile near anywhere that I would describe as 'film entertainment' because the story is a series of challenges (of survival) that you might expect in the north pole. Don't get me wrong that this is not a serious attempt to create an interesting story. It is.

If this is the type of documentary you want to see, fair enough. I thought I should give it a go too, but I was wrong about myself and what might engage me. I was bored stiff and desperately contemplating to press the stop button on the remote. Half way into the film, I did - had enough.
7 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Passage to Nasa incompetence
nova36920005 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler alert, this is not about the planet Mars!

So, a diesel engine for a test for Mars..... Nasa newer heard of solar power, the most idiotic test for going to another planet.

Testing and ice vehicle for a planet that has no water or ice we know of...

Having a sonar thingy that can scan only under the vehicle, so sees cracks when your already in the hole.....

Look at the cute polar bear...awwwww, lucky he didn't eat us...or unlucky for the viewers who must go through another hour of fails after fails, stupid ways of doing simple things, and such a crazy lack of imagination on what a Mars exploration vehicle should be, it cries incompetence.

For those who want something about Mars, this is not it, its a team of people who wanna play Mars explorers on ice with a Humvee and that do stupid things every 15 minutes. Amusing in a way.....
6 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
pter-0648110 December 2016
as other reviews have stated ,some nice shots , but passage to mars ? If anything it shows why were never going anywhere as single point failures abound ,and that's on Earth , add no atmosphere and no air supplies and ...

Its a shame they didn't have to suit up every time they went outside and carry there own air and co2 scrubbers . And a diesel vehicle ? and at least show they were doing more science than drilling a hole to see how thick the ice was and how old ..duh !.

How did they go to the toilet ? Did they save up there waste in case they had to grow potatoes on Devon island ??? So many interesting things were left unexplored ,even there own thoughts and fears were sort of disneyfied .

Oh dear.
7 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
NASA will be soon broke with expeditions like this
bedencic6 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Cmon are u serious, north pole expedition, with sleeping beds in truck.

Is this survival mission, or just pure road trip for spoiled people? Their experienced mechanic, cant plug off fuse to check for steering fluid, and they have to turn off vehicle to check it (while alternator not working).

Was there really so thin ice, or did they just pour water in snow that it looked that they were stuck in incredibly thin ice (for dramatization).

Couldn't watch it till end.

Idk where this is relating with future mars people expedition.
18 out of 206 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Would have worked better as a Gif
iwalker119 November 2016
If you wish to be bored out of your mind then please do watch this documentary, a few people climb into an arctic vehicle and plod along the snow and ice, break down a couple of times and carry on.

That's it that's all that happens, you get a few shots of Mars but nothing out of the ordinary.

If you have to watch a something featuring vehicles and snow then watch the Top Gear Polar Special instead, it's so much more entertaining than this.

Fair play to them for putting up with the conditions of working out there but it does not make for entertaining viewing, I just couldn't wait for it to finish, if they had to make an episode out of it then they should have cut it down to 30 minutes.
7 out of 63 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Nothing really happens
folofolo6 October 2016
This is movie is about the difficulties and every day life of a small crew that wants to travel across the Arctic in order to realize what it's like to travel on Mars.

That itself, is not very exciting.

And on top of that, nothing really happens in the movie. It's just a very odd thing to show to people because it's more or less pointless. You almost never here the crew talking to each other, just the narrative voice-over. You get to know the characters a little, but not enough to care what happens to them.

Avoid this, do something else with you free time. It's a very boring movie.
16 out of 193 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed