The Martian

by | Oct 16, 2015 | 0 comments

An Incredibly Well Rounded Film, From Technical to Artistic Aspects

The subject of human survival might be one of the most fascinating to cover in any form of art material. The movies in 2013 were filled with stories about one human being fighting against all the odds to survive. That was the year where we had films such as Gravity, All is Lost, 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, Captain Phillips, and Dallas Buyers Club. With The Martian we touch upon this same subject again and it doesn’t fail to impress or to explore the ubiquitous human determination to survive.

The Martian tells the story of a NASA Mars mission gone awry. In the wake of a sandstorm a crew of scientists on Mars is forced to abort their mission early and return to earth. However, during the evacuation, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by debris and left for dead on the Martian surface. NASA declares him dead, and the crew mourns the absence of his good humor. But… surprise! Mark is alive. It will be another 4 years until a mission can come back to save him, and he only has food to last him a couple of months, so, in his own words: “I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” Mark ensues to grow his own food on Mars and somehow find a way to make contact with NASA.

The film might feel like it’s mostly a one man show, and for the most part it is. Matt Damon does great by keeping the stakes of his character high, but also loosening up and humoring us along the way. He achieves this mostly by talking to us through a video diary. But we mustn’t rule out a great supporting cast that did extremely well to make themselves be heard. We have a great Jessica Chastain who plays the team leader of the Mars team. We have a spectacular Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays the Mars NASA executive back on earth. And we also have a Jeff Daniels, the president of NASA, whose snappy and quick dialogue reminds us of his best days on The Newsroom. Then we also have the more cameo-like appearances of Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean (who surprisingly doesn’t die), and Sebastian Stan. They all are great taking their turns with their roles and not stepping on each other’s dialogue, which can be hard with such a large cast.

But what perhaps surprised me most was Ridley Scott. The grim 77-year-old director handled this film with such freshness and electricity that it felt as if it had been made by someone half his age. It is great to see him able to morph out of the more depressing films he’s known for (Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner), and it truly makes us see what a truly great director is capable of.

Technically the film is also spectacular; the editing in particular was a highlight that kept us engaged and the jumps to Earth and Mars flow smoothly. The production design was also great, with pinpoint researched positioning of every small object. This gives us a great amount of background details that are a delight to catch every once in a while.

In the end this is an incredibly well rounded film. It is two and a half hours, but never once are you bored or compelled to look at your watch. It touches on all the aspects of filmmaking extremely well, from set design to acting; and in terms of the story it is able to appease those philosophical thinkers and those scientific accurate viewers as well.  

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 88% 88%

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Lead Performance

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Directing

What is your favorite stranded in space movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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