REVIEW: The Martian… Kids? Study Botany!!!

Directed by:  Ridley Scott

Starring:  Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain…. and a whole gaggle of other people!

There is much excitement and anticipation surrounding The Martian.  This is a non-sequel and non-superhero film, and while I have enjoyed (some of) my superheroes and sequels this summer, finally there is something “fresh” in theaters.

Not unlike the premise, the telling of this story is a very large undertaking and has the requisite large cast behind it.  It is definitely a sci-fi movie… I mean it does take place “in space”, after all.  However, the film isn’t weighed down with that.  The real underlying theme focuses on  the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity.

Matt Damon stars as Astronaut, Mark Watney. During a manned mission to Mars, Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. (Thanks for the logline.)

Matt Damon carries this movie, and he unequivocally shines.  He performs most of his scenes alone and I’m reminded much of Tom Hanks’ role in Cast Away, though Damon has the advantage of technology and vlogging on his side as the story unfolds. But, Watney is marooned on Mars, and that’s no deserted island. The challenges of staying alive and getting home are astronomical in comparison.  The irony is that we don’t feel that way.  Watney attacks the obstacles one at a time with and never once did I doubt that they were going to “bring him home”, as orders the tagline.

WatneyDirector Ridley Scott runs a tight ship and the story has little waste.  My only knock is that this is a looong movie.  There are some stretches where the action slows, and what this does is lull us into a sense of false security before the next crisis occurs.  Also, it takes a long time for NASA to discover Watney, and work out a plan.  There’s lots of footage of Damon walking and talking, or farming and talking, or driving and talking.  I don’t know that this is excess however, as it certainly demonstrates the feeling that time is passing– and plans need time to execute. I don’t know that I ever learned how long a “SOL” was, which is the equivalent to a day on Mars.  I gather from the interwebs that there isn’t a great deal of difference between a Sol and an earth day, but that would have been good to know in order to translate time. (Perhaps, it was explained, and I missed it?)   What that did, though, was to further illustrate and separate Watney’s experience from what was going on back home.

The supporting cast is superb… Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Mackenzie Davis … and the list goes on.

The film is based on a tome of the same name, the debut novel written by Andy Weir.  This is a remarkable story in itself as The Martian was a self-published effort by Weir that was picked up and put in print.  The paperback version is currently on the bestseller list, and now we are watching it on the big screen. Wikipedia says Weir researched and wrote the book to be as factual as it could be for these circumstances.

So, to my dear readers, please let Weir and this film inspire you, and absolutely do not let circumstances prevent you from taking chances and following your dreams.

Cindy Says:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ plus stars. Go see The Martian, and see it in theaters.  Don’t let the fact that it is set in space deter you.  There is great music as well, and that final song in the movie?  Brilliant!!

Recommendations:  If you like this, you should watch Cast Away, Apollo 13 and Gravity.

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