Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Case for a Martian Manhunt

The Martian pits Matt Damon against the inhospitable atmosphere and elements of the fourth planet, Mars.  Left behind after a highly improbable storm forces his team to leave the planet, Damon’s character must learn to adapt and use what has been left behind to help him survive until people come back to the red planet and he can be rescued.  He has his wits, his poo, and a collection of 70s disco music.  Will it work?

And considering Ridley Scott’s recent efforts, does the film work?

The answer to the second question (as I don’t want to give spoilers for the first) is a resounding yes. 

With Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Wiig, Sean Bean and a whole raft of other people with familiar faces on board, he has the cast to help him pull this off.  The effects are likewise extraordinary, and the script and story are both compelling.

Most important of these of course is Damon, carrying the bulk of the film on his broad shoulders.  He has played a man marooned on a distant planet before in Interstellar, but this time he is not a dick.  His character, Watney, is engaging, funny, and competent and completely empathetic to the audience.  Likewise, those in Mission Control and various other locations are serious and seem totally plausible, the odd moment of levity just adding to making the film feel plausible for science fiction.  

There’s not too much more to say about it really.  The film looks amazing on the big screen and while some of the actions taken to try and get The Martian back and home don’t really seem to make a huge amount of sense (what was that with the directional glove again?), there are enough scenes and sections based on quasi-fact to make the film mostly believable.  And through it all, Damon keeps things on track and enjoyable, even if he does not have a volleyball (a la Castaway) to keep him company.

Verdict: The Martian is a great, entertaining and engrossing movie, full of fine performances, great effects, and a superior script.  Totally enjoyable and totally worth seeing on the big screen.  Yes, I liked t!  9.5 Mars Bars out of 10.