A Science-ier Version of Gravity
The Martian (2015): During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
Man those IMDB descriptions are getting longer and longer. Anyway, before you think that caption implies I didn't like the movie, I loved this film. Well, mostly. If you felt that Gravity was awesome but lacked basis in science, or Interstellar wasn't good enough because it lacked a bases in science, then The Martian is the movie for you. You've probably already seen it, as I do acknowledge that I'm coming into this review a little late. But, did you notice the part where I said mostly loved this film? Ya, I said mostly. Once again, we get a 144 minute film where the second half of the movie cannot keep up with the first half. This has been a serious trend in Hollywood recently: filmmakers set up a phenomenal film, but cannot follow through and deliver a week third act. Unfortunately, The Martian is no exception.
Again, pleaaaaase don't think I hated the film. I most certainly did not, and even though the final act was lackluster, the first half of this film is still awesome, and there are plenty of other things that are awesome here too. For example, the cast here is awesome. I was honestly worried I was not going to be able to get past the fact that Matt Damon played an astronaut, you know, last year, but I was pleasantly surprised. This Matt Damon astronaut was nothing like the last one, and I quickly forgot about that horribly written character altogether. (Nice shot at Interstellar there I know) While the rest of this cast doesn't really matter.....like at all....we still get wonderfully acted performances from Jessica Chastain, (one of my favorite actresses in the business right now and also in last year's Interstellar fun fact) Jeff Daniels, (who's basically just playing his character Will McAvoy from The Newsroom) Michael Pena, (how can you not love this guy) Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kate Mara. The big losers here are Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean, who are in this film for no other reason than to be looked at and to not die for once in a film, respectively. Yes Kristen Wiig is only in this film for eye candy, as her biggest scene in the whole film she just happened to wear the most skin-tight dress on the planet to work that day. And yes, I did say Sean Bean doesn't die for once and you may think that's a spoiler cause Sean Bean always dies, but he only has like 6 lines so trust me....no spoiler there.
Another plus? The cinematography. The film gets a 10/10 from me on cinematography as it makes Interstellar's view of space look like Legos. The film's view of Mars and of space is absolutely stunning, and it's worth several watches (as well as one in theater if you haven't done so already) for this reason alone. Yes, to me the cinematography is worth the price of admission. But now let's talk about the bad stuff. Which involves the story. At first I was loving the story. It was freaking awesome to see this much science being explained to you on-screen at one time. Problems that Matt Damon faced including how to make things grow on Mars, how to communicate with NASA, and how to make a space rover travel much farther than initially designed were mesmerizing. However as time went on, this level of detail clearly could not be maintained in a single 2+ hour film. But when the movie stopped providing as much detail is when it became an extremely standard run-of-the-mill rescue film, complete with the standard BS line of "trust me, I did the numbers, they're right." line that you get in every film that realizes it doesn't have time to adequately explain something. And the rescue itself? Some of the things that happen there are absolutely unbelievable, which is amplified tenfold because of how believable the first half of the film actually is.
That said, again, I did enjoy this movie. Turning my brain off towards the end is not what I was hoping for going into it, but even still the cinematography and acting was more than enough to keep me invested even when my brain was turned off. Ultimately, The Martian is a good film. Nothing special, but still good. I certainly don't expect a sweeping of the Oscars or anything, but I definitely DEFINITELY will predict a nomination for Cinematography. But other than that? I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't receive any other nominations. Sorry, I guess? Sorry if you were hoping that I was going to say The Martian is the greatest film ever made, but sometimes being good is.....fine. It certainly is here. Welcome to the Oscar season ladies and gentlemen.
The Verdict: While beautifully shot, The Martian suffers from several late flaws that prevent it from being anything more than good.
The Recommendation: Definitely for science fans as it is one of the most science-y films ever, and definitely for Matt Damon fans as well. I'd say it's a sold October release worth checking out in a theater on a cold and rainy fall afternoon.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 7/10 Good.
Oscar Talk: I have a feeling Matt Damon is not going to get a nomination for Best Actor. Every year that field is just too densely populated, but I do expect a nomination for Best Cinematography and effects. Other than that? Nada.
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