The Martian

2015 science fiction movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: NASA tries to retrieve a guy they accidentally left on Mars. Meanwhile, he grows potatoes and cracks wise.

The best thing I can say about this movie is that it really does feel like it's based on a true story, like Apollo 13. The worst thing is that it often feels like a project devised by Matt Damon's people to show how likable and charming he can be. He plays Matt Damon in this, and there's really nothing wrong with that because Matt Damon is likable enough. But there's only so many scenes of Matt Damon being brave and growing potatoes that a person can take. After a while, I got a little bored.

Mars looks as good as you'd expect it to look in a Ridley Scott movie. There's an attempt to make the science part of this science fiction entertainment as realistic as possible; however, most movie watchers--me included--are too stupid to know better or care anyway. The heroes, the ones not played by Matt Damon, are all ultra-heroic, with an almost sickening amount of gumption. The whole thing feels like a sci-fi remake of Castaway except Matt Damon doesn't befriend an inanimate object. Everything happens exactly as it should and exactly as you'd expect, and that's rarely a good thing.

My favorite aspect of this was the role of NASA and its attempts to manipulate the media. A movie more about that and less about Matt Damon being charming would have been a slightly better movie.


Barry said...

Pretty much how I felt about the film. Its likable and Damon is likable, everyone but a couple thrown in money pincers are likable. I have heard more than a few comparisons to Apollo 13, but I thought that the old Ron Howard film was far superior. Its funny because they both deal with rescue missions in space, but the suspense in the Martian never feels real. I remember going to Apollo 13 and thinking to myself that there is no way that this movie is going to keep me enthralled, because I knew the story so well. Exactly the opposite happened. In The Martian, there was no real tension, because not only did I know he was going to survive, it felt like a lot of the obstacles put in his way were just that...obstacles. There was no point where I thought, "Well Matts done for now".

Its a fun movie, and I enjoyed myself in it, but I was kind of bored in some parts. Its a good film....not a great one. I guess Tom Hanks is better than Matt Damon because your other comparison, of Hanks in Cast away versus the Martian has me on Hanks side as well, at least in terms of acting and character development. Actually I might rate Cast away and The Martian exactly the same....14 or so on the 20 point scale you like to use.

cory said...

It is not Apollo 13 level, but few things are. I can see where both of you are coming from, but I bought it more than you, and was never bored. I'm not sure how obstacles can be more obstacle-y, but given the intent of the movie to show the Earth and space-group stuff, there wasn't time to have him face too much more danger. It also would have stretched realism even more than including a storm far beyond what exists on Mars. Damon-charm goes a long way, and I really liked the solve-the-problem and self-sacrifice themes. There was a lot of humor, a fair amount of tension, and good characters. A 17.