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Monday, October 19, 2015

Movie Review- The Martian

See, even Marvin is pissed that he's stuck on that planet


Introduction

Stranded in space. How will they ever survive? (cue the ominous drum beat) By Hollywood magic of course. Sure they can bring in a bunch of scientific experts to advise on a film or to keep those quantum relativity jokes in the realm of realistic on The Big Bang Theory but, we won't truly comprehend all of the dangers of God's vacuum until we're as advanced as those pesky Vulcans. Whether they're science fiction (Enemy Mine, Pitch Black, Moon) or based on actual events (Apollo 13), there have been some interesting movies on the subject. I wonder though, why isn't there more (or any) anti-gravity sex in those movies? Come on, that's a market that could definitely be "tapped" into. I mean the sex puns could be endless (astro glide, open space, event whorizon, astronaugty, unlimited Uranus jokes).
 
 

The Martian

 
Since apparently stranding a guy with a bad tooth and an ugly sweater on an island wasn't enough (Cast Away), they've decided to dump a botanist/astronaut or astronaut/botanist (whatever) on the most fascinating planet since Mercury; Mars. To be honest, Mars is just not that interesting. Unless you have Douglas Quaid "seeing you at the party Richter" (Total Recall), there's nothing more than rocks and a red digital glaze to grab your attention. Hell, Mars is so boring that they had to give a white guy special Hulk jumping skills to keep the audiences from yawning and, it still didn't work (John Carter). But don't fret because Ridley Scott and Matt Damon are gonna use some smoke & mirrors. And that's what The Martian is; A clever illusion that's so well orchestrated by its director and lead actor, that we forget that we've seen this film a dozen times before and that the red planet sucks. Even films as recent as Gravity and Interstellar have similarities to this that can't be completely ignored. But enough bashing for a moment. After the first fifteen minutes or so (which was kind of boring), The Martian focuses on its greatest asset to move things along; Matt Damon (Interstellar; Yep, he's stranded again). When the story focuses entirely on him, this movie shines. Damon has the ability and charisma to go solo and keep our attention in the likes of Tom Hanks (Cast Away), Will Smith (I Am Legend), and Sam Rockwell (Moon). The direction of Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus) also tricks us into thinking that this film is special. Even though we know how it's all going to end, Scott distracts us with some good filmmaking that isn't sappy or over-sentimental like most films of this sort (I'm saying "Michael Bay" while mock sneezing).
 
The story back on Earth isn't bad either, just not as good. It brings to mind all of the slow scenes from Armageddon but, better handled and less campy without an overlong love story. The scientific explanations are also presented in a way that doesn't feel dumbed down nor pandering. Aside from Damon's very human and sympathetic character, the supporting cast does a decent job of lightening things up. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity) is good but also seems to be playing the same guy he did from 2012. Jeff Daniels (Speed) comes off as the typical asshole boss at first but, we soon realize he's being as pragmatic as anyone in his position should be. Kristen Wiig (The Skeleton Twins) as another comedian trying to crossover into more serious fare, does a fine balance between being capable and humorous. There were a few smaller roles that I really appreciated as well but, my favorite was from Sean Bean (Goldeneye). I've always liked him as an actor and now with age, he's become a go-to man for witty banter and kick ass situations. Mars itself is also a supporting character too. It's always doing something to mess with Damon's composure and will to survive.
 
 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of The Martian


The Good- No unnecessary twists and the logic behind every decision on Earth seemed plausible.
 
The Bad- You wonder why I didn't mention Jessica Chastain (Interstellar) Kate Mara (Fantastic Four 2015), Michael Pena (Ant-Man), and Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), as Damon's crew members? Well that's because they were pretty much nonexistent for about ninety-five percent of the film. Make that ninety-eight. I almost forgot that they were even in it. And seriously, did you really think that we were going to accept a piece of duct taped plastic as a proper barrier in a near vacuum? Duct tape is strong but come on.
 
The Ugly- There are no Wilson! moments at all. Couldn't Damon have grabbed a rock the size of Ben Affleck's head and painted a face on it? There were plenty to choose from. It's freaking Mars! Even Will Forte's (MacGruber) The Last Man on Earth show has every kind of Wilson type balls you can think of with a face (golf, tennis, volley, bowling, blue).
 
 

Final Thoughts on The Martian

 
Although it's unoriginal and there's way too much ground to cover in a hundred and forty-one minutes, The Martian is very good and entertaining for nearly its entire running time. Should you see it in theaters? I think so but in two months I believe that a new film set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, will make all of us forget about this one. You know why? Cause those films aren't set on boring ass Mars!
Rating- 7 out of 10

Running Time- 141 Minutes
Science Fiction/Survival/Drama

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Joe Speigle  



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