If you loved “Interstellar,” you already know you’ve got to see this movie. If you fell asleep during “Gravity” but saw it because you thought it would be kind of fun, you’ve got to see this movie. In fact, if the words “Matt Damon,” “spaceships,” “NASA,” or “potatoes” intrigue you, you should probably see this movie.
From the director that brought you the thrilling pace of “Aliens,” the painfully long pace of “Blade Runner,” and whatever “Prometheus” had going for it, Ridley Scott directs a nicely paced, well-cast adventure set on the planet sized desert of Mars.
In a not-so-far off future when the world has set its sight on the red planet, one voyage goes awry when Commander Melissa Lewis’s (Jessica Chastain) data collection mission runs into a massive storm on the surface of the planet. The crew leaves immediately after their fellow crewmember, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), is struck with flying debris and thrown into the chaos of the whirling sand.
Pronounced dead just hours after the crew had escaped the planet, Watney recovers to prove he is, in fact, not dead, but stranded and without contact to mission control on Earth.
The thing about this movie is that its plot and purpose are so clear and inarguable that you are never taken out to try and scramble together incoherent plot points and deal with a mess of subplots. Instead, it has a clear purpose throughout – get this astronaut back to Earth. The ending, to me, felt well deserved and satisfying, even though it was pretty anticlimactic. The movie had me walking out the same way, as if I had just finished a full course meal – digesting the visuals, characters, settings and writing – to the point that the movie got better the more I thought about it.
First of all, Matt Damon kills it in this movie. If you don’t see it for the space or the story, you’ll see it to watch Matt Damon bring the sarcastic, endearing space botanist Mark Watney to life. But as the movie progresses and the story develops, the character of Mark Watney and many of the others – both in space and on the ground – are slowly peeled away by this situation, both physically and mentally, to the point where you’re noticing physical differences in their facial features.
However, this doesn’t stop the movie from adding a quip and comic relief to counteract every serious moment like it was John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight.” This arguably adds a lot of digestibility to the plot when Watney is just such a likeable character. You’ll find rooting for his survival becoming very easy after he’s cracked a few jokes. Probably the most sarcastic astronaut ever, Watney’s story is one of perseverance, ingenuity, and keeping liveliness in a place with unforgiving lifelessness. At some points though, he is almost too sarcastic for his situation, which makes his character slightly less believable and detracted from the overall seriousness of the movie.
When the term “sci-fi movie” comes to mind, so do the words spaceships, robots, and that weirdly sexual female voice that announces when any character so much as opens a door. One thing, however, that turns me off from any scientific form of media is the sheer density of their vocabulary. Although “The Martian” has its fair of terms cross referenced by a car manual and an AP physics textbook, it does not derail the major plot in any linguistic fashion.
In fact, you could probably watch the entire movie without the sound, but then you would miss out on something that made this movie that much better. “The Martian” has taken the musical concept of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” to create a soundtrack complementing its quirky, fun-loving undertone. However, while “Guardians of the Galaxy” had used its retro soundtrack to coincide with its comical tone, “The Martian” shimmies in a couple of disco tracks to break tense scenes and get the audience breathing sighs of relief.
“The Martian” has continuously been reviewed and rated one of the best movies of the year for everything from its cinematography, excellent direction, and brilliant cast. In a time when the news focuses on disunity and devastation, it is nice to see a fictional story preserving a sense of human collaboration and offering its refreshing commentary on unity binding humans from even millions of miles away from Earth.