Friday, October 2, 2015
The Martian (2015)
The Martian doesn't waste any time. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is stranded on Mars in the opening moments of the film. Since that's the whole premise of the film, might as well get it out of the way, right? No sense in building that up for 30 minutes when the trailer reveals this. Watney must figure out a way to make his supplies last and contact home. As said in the film, he sciences the shit out of it.
It made me happy to see a film where everyone is smart. Hell, the main character of the film is an astronaut-botanist. How geeky is that? Matt Damon might be the main character, but the hero of The Martian is Science. Anything that gets people interested in outer space and celebrates Science is already winning my book. Doesn't hurt when Neil deGrasse Tyson tweets that The Martian got "crucial science right." He did also say that it's still fantasy, but some of those comments seemed to in jest.
It's a testament to Matt Damon's acting and charisma that The Martian stays entertaining even when watching long stretches of just talking to himself, or doing repetitive tasks. Like many stranded films, it can be hard or tedious to watch a guy struggling to survive if you don't like the actor or can't root for the character.
The Martian is a good example of a great cast that isn't wasted. They exist in the Goldilocks zone where everyone's screentime and performances are just right. It's is also very funny with a lot of sharp dialog. I didn't realize Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) wrote the screenplay, so perhaps its humor shouldn't have surprised me as much. The script also does a good job of explaining everything just enough that it's not too complicated, so nobody will get lost. It's not bogged down with jargon or techno-babble.
I'm glad to see Ridley Scott knock one out of the park again. Feels like it's been a good decade since he really nailed a film, so it's nice to see him return to form. I was worried that he might have totally lost it
Funny, thrilling, and best of all, smart, The Martian hits on cylinders. This is one of the most entertaining films of the year, and you don't need to be a fan of the book to enjoy it. It's a must see!
5 (out of 5) Death Stars