The Martian Review
The Martian is a 2015 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It is based on the novel of the same name and is regarded as one of the best films of the year.
It follows an astronaut who is accidentally left alone on Mars and is with the help of the crew and scientists on Earth trying to survive. Now, the story is very engaging and it was to me immensely entertaining. The attention to detail is stunning and it is such a meticulous movie. It is also hailed as being extremely scientifically accurate and although that is exaggerated as it has some very unrealistic, fictional aspects in it, it’s still very realistic and a big emphasis on science is put. I really liked some of its themes that are well explored. The Martian has some really beautiful moments to behold and I am not just talking about the stunning cinematography and craftsmanship that went into production, but I am referring to many moments that are just so human and so wonderful to witness. Some scenes where he talks about Mars and being the first person to explore it are beautiful, I really liked the emotional intensity that his character goes through and I also liked how everyone just works together and how they didn’t make the Chinese stereotypical villains, but rather genuinely good human beings who along with everyone else are willing to help. That was admittedly a very optimistic look at the future, but the moving one nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the story does have some problems. And those problems are not that small either. It is frustratingly predictable to be honest. Yes, every survival movie is like that and of course the protagonist is going to survive in the end, but this movie followed the same basic and familiar pattern throughout all of its running time and not just the ending. I just knew everything that would happen and that was troublesome. Also, I wished for more character development and backstory of the main character and more human drama and arguments to be had. The movie was evidently lacking in that department. And I have to talk about the beginning which I found weird. I know that critics are loving it, but I just found it too abrupt and unsatisfying. I would have wished to have seen what exactly was their mission and how they got there. The whole opening was problematic to me. And the ending was way too inspirational and cheesy in my opinion. The whole movie has too many influences and I would say that it is a mix of ‘Gravity‘ and ‘Apollo 13‘ with some humor and those two movies are really similar to this one and I would say that it is just like that, a mix of the two for better and for worse.
The characters are mostly very good. Mark Watney is a very likable character. Sure, he is one of those protagonists that are too arrogant and humorous and those I usually dislike, but I liked this one as he was really funny while also being realistic. He strongly reminded me of Chris Pratt’s Starlord in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ as they share similar humor and arrogance. I really liked Lewis as she was an astronaut in charge, but never too bossy and rather a genuine human being, caring and capable at the same time. Teddy Sanders had his moments, but I wasn’t a big fan of his. Martinez is pretty good and I really liked Johanssen as well. Vincent was also a very strong character, but Rich on the other hand was incredibly annoying.
The acting is absolutely superb. Everyone here delivers. Matt Damon is fantastic and this is one of his finest performances without a doubt as he managed to deliver in both the humor and the emotional moments. Jessica Chastain is excellent, but she is always good and that is expected. She’s one of my favorite actresses working today. Jeff Daniels was quite good and Kate Mara is also likable in her role. Michael Pena was surprisingly good here and although I usually find him annoying, he proved me otherwise here and the dialogue between him and Damon is superb. Everyone is good but it is such a shame that Kristen Wiig was so underused here as she’s such a comedic gold and could have brought so much more humor to the table.
Technically speaking, The Martian is just phenomenal. Ridley Scott directed the movie with such care and great style and although I personally really like ‘Prometheus‘, this is still his best work in years as everyone is saying. The cinematography is absolutely stunning with some terrific camera angles and shots. And The Martian scenery is so incredibly beautiful and pleasing to the eye while also being highly realistic in depiction. The score is also really good and it delivered in those tense sequences with some nice beats. The pacing is mostly really good and I would not say it is overlong despite running at more than two hours. It is a deftly edited movie with never a dragged sequence. The tone is also stupendous with a nice mix of drama and comedy. I really liked the humor in here. Yes, it was at times a bit forced and some of it was very hit-or-miss, but it was mostly really funny and likable. It isn’t the most original or unpredictable movie for sure, but it does have a good script and source material with some really moving parts. The dialogue was very good and the special effects are great. The realism is also evident and the movie does have a heart as well, albeit too cheesy at the end.