Christian reviews were split this week over the spiritual content in a pair of sci-fi actioners. Some critics said box-office champ Mission to Mars and the sleeper hit Pitch Black displayed God's providence, while others found only anti-Christian sentiments.

Mission to Mars ($22.9 million)

While this film is ostensibly centered on the first Martian landing in 2020 and a subsequent rescue mission to bring back a vanished crew, its marketing campaign lured moviegoers by boldly promising to reveal life's origins. And while no one suggests the movie's conjectures are correct, several Christian critics felt its speculation was antagonistic to Christianity. "Without giving away the end of the film," says Michael Elliott of Movie Parables, "let me just say that according to the filmmakers, God was not involved in the process." Movieguide is even more pointed: "The New Age premise is an attack on the essential Jewish and Christian teaching that God created life on earth." But Hollywood Jesus finds room for God in Mission to Mars. "The story overflows with the idea that the universe happened by design, and not chance. … The film is in a sense a celebration of life in the universe and its kinship." For others, these theological questions were hard to take seriously in such a lackluster production. "The most interesting question about Mission to Mars is why anyone—director, actors, producers—got involved in the first place," writes J. Robert Parks of The Phantom Tollbooth. Christian Spotlight guest reviewer Brian Wolters elaborates: "From opening to ending, it is filled with plot holes, bad acting, even worse dialogue and illogical direction." But these detractions were overlooked by those who were happy to see a tame, PG space ...

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