“The Martian” Film Review

Finally a space movie that is actually worth watching.  And I am sorry, a film far more superior to the 2013 film, Gravity.

The Martian, starring Matt Damon, is a smart, Mars-set film with excellent direction, a terrific screenplay, a winning performance from Matt Damon & one phenomenal score. It makes us want to dream about being an Astronaut’s shoes some day, leaving the aliens that Ridley Scott is use to dealing with out of the picture.

The film is based on the best-selling novel from Andy Weir.  The film opens with a group of NASA astronauts currently completing a mission on Mars.  The team includes Mark Watney (Damon), Commander Lewis (played by Jessica Chastain), Rick Martinez (played by Michael Peña), Beth Johanssen (played by Kate Mara), Chris Beck (played by Sebastian Stan) & Alex Vogel (played by Aksel Hennie).  The mission seems to be going well until Beth warns the crew that an approaching storm is turning out to be worse than predicted. So, Commander Lewis makes the decision that it’s time to abort and get off the planet. However, on the way back to the space craft, Mark is hit by an antenna and is launched into the air during the storm, leaving the crew unable to find him.  This puts Lewis in a very difficult position, and she decides that he is most likely dead.

Back in the US, some of NASA’s officials like Teddy Sanders (played by Jeff Daniels) are already making announcements that Mark Watney is in fact dead.  But luckily, Mark wakes up on Mars with some bloody wounds and survives the antenna attack.  He returns to base to stitch himself up and think of a way to possibly survive and get NASA’s attention.  The attention part doesn’t take long when Mindy Park (played by Mackenzie Davis) discovers that Mark is alive during her usual viewing of satellite images.  This means the new mission is to figure out how Mark can survive until they come up with a solid rescue mission.

In order to not disrupt the rest of the crew’s return to the US, NASA decides not tell them that Mark is in fact alive.  To survive, Mark uses his gardening and botanist skills to grow potatoes on Mars.  This way he can ration out his food and think of a plan to keep on surviving.  However, like all space rescue missions, the plans come with some limitations and headaches.  But NASA doesn’t give up on Mark, and he is determined to make it home, as well.

What keeps the film going very well is Matt Damon’s engaging performance.  He is a talented actor that can portray the type of emotion & also humor that this character needs.  After reading the book, I couldn’t picture a better Watney.

The supporting cast all does a very good job as well, specifically Jessica Chastain as the strong Commander Lewis & Kristen Wiig as NASA’s PR person.  Wiig has a sometimes foul mouth that adds even more humor to the table.

Direction wise, Ridley Scott gives his best film since Black Hawk Down or Gladiator.  His vision is slick, fast-paced & engaging, never leaving you bored along the way.  He has definitely been robbed of an Oscar nomination for Best Director, as I found his vision to be one of the best parts of the film.

Drew Goddard’s screenplay does the book justice, sticking to what makes the book worth reading.  He captures the humor, the emotion and scientific parts, but keeps it so he doesn’t confuse the audience too much.  It’s really well written, with a superb score from Harry Gregson-William.  Seriously, who overlooked this guy for the awards season?  It fit the film so well.

Conclusion:

The Martian is one of the best films of 2015, but it shouldn’t have won Best Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes.  Sure, it has it’s humorous moments, but this a thrilling, dramatic film with a movie stealing performance Damon, fantastic direction & well written, award worthy screenplay.  Rated PG-13.

5 diamonds

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