Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Martian Review

The Martian
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast Headliners: Matt Damon, Chiwefel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain , Jeff Daniels
Original Release Date : October 2nd, 2015

               The Martian is in some ways Ridley Scott trying to make the least Ridley Scott science fiction film he can. Whereas Alien, Blade Runner, and Prometheus where dark and very fantastical this film literally shines with color and is more “hard sci-fi” with its fact. Where those films either focused on a single character or an crew but never both at once, this one mixes all manner of perspectives. He uses humor and optimism which have not often been found in his work. Its different, but this adaptation of the Andy Weir novel works very very well for many reasons. It's much more than a guy stuck on Mars.
The film introduces the Ares III mission to Mars in an undetermined point in the future consisting of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Johanssen (Kate Mara), Vogel (Aksel Hennie), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), and Martinez (Michael Pena). Its not surprise from the promotional material that their mission goes awry and Mark is left behind to survive.
In a way its as if there's two films here. Watney must make do with what he has on desolate Mars. The film is absolutely one of Matt Damon's finest pieces in his career. He makes the viewer laugh, cheer, and cry through his triumphs and failures. He manages to have all this happen with no one else around and this is a testament to both Damon and Ridley Scott. He used his directorial prowress to make us afraid in Alien and here its used to make use hope so much for Watney's well being sense he's a hero who is worth having around.
This optimistic humor is the film's big surprise. Its used as a remedy to a very scary situation. That's not to say there aren't sequences of intensity and dread but for the most part the cold void of space is filled in with snappy writing and charming humor. This is true in both sides of the film.
The other film here, besides the “Cast Away in space “ of Watney is the events happening on Earth at NASA. This includes a team of director Teddy (Jeff Daniels), Mars Mission head Vincent (Chiwetel Ejiofor), PR lead Annie (Kirsten Wiig), and many more. It's an all star cast and everyone gets a chance to shine. Whether its in snappy planning at home or seeing the rest of the Martian crew in orbit theres not a single character that feels not fleshed out. Strong writing gives a reason to like everyone as a character and strong performances are their to match.
The story is something filled with surprises as well, and the prime appeal is seeing how things unfold in both locales. This is a strong story and the science is also never too hard to understand. Perhaps one of the few slips is that sometimes large gaps of time will pass that maybe would have been interesting to see.
This is a Ridley Scott film so of course the visuals were guaranteed to be impeccable and they are as beautiful as ever. Its as if this was actually filmed on Mars with landscapes being beautiful as they are. Every prop and item in the world seems as if it is somewhere out in a lab right now. Everything is well shot and edited. With everything being so pretty its another small downstep in that some sequences, notably the end, have moments where the visuals seem to drop in quality compared to the rest of the film but for the most part its galactic goodness.

The Martian is unique sci fi . It brings a fancy visual feast for sure and some good drama. But it stands out as being remember able for its characters and humor and optimistic . For a planet so dead, its a very human film. Ridley Scott has once again showed another side of what the science fiction genre can be and while it can be said to have a simple premise it is certainly a fun ride. 8.65 out of 10

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