Friday, February 5, 2016

The Martian

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Was really hoping to see a cameo from either Curiosity or Marvin.  I got neither.  Thanks, movie!

The Martian – 5 out of 5

I have never read the novel by Andy Weir and never actually heard of it until the film adaptation with Matt Damon was first released as a trailer.  The idea of being left behind on the Red Planet and having to make an inhospitable planet hospitable long enough to survive on until a rescue mission comes was very intriguing.  Add in the very large and very talented ensemble cast the film bolstered and I knew that this was a film that I HAD to see in the theater.  I had an opportunity to see an advanced screening of the film but was turned away because too many critics in my area showed up—apparently saying that I am a blogger with a whopping two dozen followers wasn’t enough to get me in.  The usher then said something about my weight and proceeded to throw Milk Duds at me.  It was embarrassing.  Anyway, when it was released to the public, I couldn’t acquire the funds to see it in the theater—see, writing a blog that is only read by two dozen people doesn’t pay the best.  However, when it hit Blu-Ray, I took the gamble and decided to buy the film without having to see it—something I don’t do very often.  Thankfully, my gambit with buying The Martian sight unseen paid off quite well.

                                                                                                                   Paramount Pictures
Of course, having Matt Damon in the lead role didn't hurt my decision to
buy the film either.

In the year 2035, a manned mission made it to Mars—essentially they got their asses to Mars successfully—but during the course of their exploration a storm hit their site and they were forced to evacuate the planet.  Unfortunately, astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) is hit by debris and believed dead.  Reluctantly, the rest of the crew leaves without realizing that Watney survived the impact and was now marooned by himself on the planet.  With a limited amount of supplies and several years away from the next manned mission hitting the surface, Watney is forced to figure out how to survive and how to contact NASA or he’ll be the first man to die on Mars.

                                                                                                                        TriStar Pictures
Artist's depiction of what could have happened to Watney.

Even at its most basic, endeavors that involve space travel can be quite frightening when you think about it.  Not including the more fantastic fictional ideas of killer xenomorphs with acid blood and a second set of teeth that can both punch and gnash, the harsh realities of the vacuum can be terrifying.  Now, taking it even further and placing the story on an uninhabited planet that takes years to get to and you have one of man’s most basic fears, abandonment, and you’ve turned it up to 11.  That was part of why The Martian spoke to me from the trailer and why I wanted to see it so bad.  It promised suspense and drama and it delivered on this in an unrelenting fashion.  Not to mention some great disco tunes along the way!  The story was incredibly engaging, highly addictive and it melds drama, tension and humor effectively well (and disco music) and made the entire feature very human, very emotional and extremely fun.  It was all but impossible to not cry when the foreseeable ending of Watney finally making home actually occurred.  Of course, I’m kidding.  I don’t want to spoil anything.  He dies at the end…or does he?

                                                                                                                     20th Century Fox
Dude, we get it.  You grow your own pot.

Not surprisingly, the cast in the film is absolutely incredible.  It wasn’t shocking at all that Matt Damon was very sympathetic and very amusing as Watney.  He made me giggle as he tried to laugh off his predicament just as much as he made tears swell in my old eyeballs as the gravity of his nearly impossible situation weighed on him.  There’s a reason why he keeps being put into movies where we have to save him and that is because there’s a very palpable charm to the man and he makes you want to see him make it, not to mention see the world move heaven and earth to get to him and rescue the guy.

                                                                                                                     20th Century Fox
Dear Marvel Studios, please bring in Miles Morales into the MCU soon.  Donald Glover isn't
getting any younger.

While the story is definitely focused on Watney I would hesitate to call the rest of the cast as “supporting.”  Very talented actors and actresses like Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean (who doesn’t die, by the way…or does he?), Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor and so many, many more all play members of Watney’s crew and the dedicated techs and engineers who work their collected asses off to figure out how to help the man.  There wasn’t a single performance that wasn’t standing out or pulling their weight and assisting in making this a film that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let it go.

                                                                                                                     20th Century Fox
They're a little in shock because they just read the part where I said that Sean
Bean is in this film and doesn't die.

Finally, one thing that really stood out in this film was how excellent it was crafted on a technical level.  The visuals from director Ridley Scott are fantastic and can run the spectrum of being gorgeous and haunting.  The special effects are absolutely incredible and really help make this fictional reality feel authentic and real.  Finally, the editing in this film is tight and keeps the story moving fluidly.  Additionally, the killer editing also helped craft some of the more amusing and more dramatic moments. 

                                                                                                                      20th Century Fox
If you start singing "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" when looking at this, don't worry.
That's totally normal.

Overall, I don’t regret buying The Martian without paying to see it in the theaters or even renting it first because the film is an incredibly entertaining and a very powerful tale of human survival.    With an endless parade of talent cast members, a fantastic lead at the head of the charge and epic filmmaking from a stupidly talented director, the film proved to be a top notch science fiction film with heart and even some humor.


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