Whenever I watch this film, I can't help but think that Brian De Palma decided he wanted to remake 2001:A Space Odyssey without all those pesky problems that caused audiences to have to think, because the whole movie reads like "2001" pitched for the teenage market. Instead of a monolith, we have a sculpture of a face. Instead of Jupiter, we go to Mars. Instead of the Blue Danube, Van Halen. Instead of Kubrick's impassive and emotionless astronauts, Gary Sinise, (who seems to be about to burst into tears all they way through the movie) and cohorts - who all seem to be regular American Space Jocks right out of "Destination Moon" and who say "Oh Gahhhhd" a lot, and instead of Bowman's journey to the infinite, we get a rather tedious, plodding and overly-sentimental explanation. The spacesuits even look like an update of 2001's design.
The movie tries hard, attempting to copy the detail of 2001, but failing dismally, because the devil's in the details. The complete spaceship is abandoned, despite having a self-contained lander on the front of it (Apollo 13, anyone?). Orbital mechanics are ignored, Astronauts coming to a stop when their fuel runs out, and the ship fires its engines to go into orbit in the wrong direction. The magnetic storm that supposedly fried all electronics at the base is conveniently forgotten. You can imagine Astronaut Storey Musgrave, who was an advisor for the film, repeatedly explaining this over and over again to the writers, whilst they sit there grinning like Father Dougal McGuire.
All in all, an entertaining little film which doesn't require any hard thinking, and which unfortunately submits to tedium in the last section.
Brian. Stop, Brian. My mind is going. I can feel it.