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Movie Review: The Martian (Spoiler Free)

Updated on October 7, 2015

Foreword

Even though I've read the book, this movie review will be based on The Martian as a standalone film. I have also created a Page to Screen commentary, which discusses the adaptation process from book to film.

Movie poster for The Martian
Movie poster for The Martian | Source

Initial Impressions

Having been looking forward to this film for a grand two days (as I listened to its audiobook in that time), I am very pleased to announce that it's a good movie. It's Ridley Scott at his best with impressive visuals, recognizable characters and actors, plenty of space and tech talk (most of which you can understand the gist of), and wonderful sets. If you like space and Matt Damon, you'll like The Martian.

The Plot and Synopsis

Humanity is reaching into space and sending astronauts to the surface of Mars in a series of ARES missions. However, during the fourth mission, something goes wrong and one member of the team is left behind and thought dead. Mark Watney, the Martian, has to figure out a way to survive in an inhospitable environment for long enough for NASA to devise a plan to pick him up, as well as dealing with PR.

You will laugh, you will feel fear, and you will be awed by the presentation in this film. There's a considerable amount of jargon, words I really didn't understand or completely comprehend, but I always seemed to get the gist of it and was never left ignorant of what was going on.

The Crew of the Hermes and ARES 4 mission
The Crew of the Hermes and ARES 4 mission | Source

Casting and Performance

The main protagonist is played by Matt Damon and is a perfect fit. Damon has always shown to be a dynamic actor, representing human emotions at any scale. His performance in this film continues to prove his work ability and talent. The rest of his crew members are played by Jessica Chastain (who played the older Murph from Interstellar), Kate Mara (from the disastrous Fantastic Four film), Sebastian Stan (who's been playing Bucky Barnes/ The Winter Soldier), Michael Pena (most recently from Ant-Man), and Aksel Hennie. They play their parts well, handling the active supporting roles, although their characters have little difference between them on screen.

Back on earth, you get the heavyweight roles given to the likes of Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, and Mackenzie Davis. As you'd expect, they perform very well, even with Kristen Wiig not playing a funny role and Sean Bean not dying.

Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon
Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon | Source

The Science is Good

This is me largely talking out of what others have said of the book which I know to be faithfully adapted in the film. This film would be nothing without its science legs and it stands strong. It discusses timing and relative coordinates when delivering things from point A to B in space (largely from Earth to Mars), as well as manipulating celestial vehicles to different purposes than what they were designed for. I'm told there's a bit of misleading information here and there, but it's easily swallowable when the grand scheme of the plot is valid.

Rated PG-13

There's swearing to a believable degree, as things go wrong for the main character while stranded on a deserted planet. By swearing I mean occasional drops of the 'f-bomb.' Otherwise, violence is extremely minimal, and I don't recall any sexual content at all. It's Robinson Crusoe in Space.

Closing Thoughts

The Martian is a good movie overall. It's far better than most of the space films you'll have seen recently (Interstellar and Gravity come to mind). It largely stays true to actual scientific approach, which is good (or at least, that's what I'm told because I often found myself not understanding the fine details of the mechanics). Matt Damon plays Mark Watney extremely well, capturing a sarcastic astronaut stranded on a deserted planet very well, keeping his character believable in the good and the bad times. It's a very solid film, and potentially worth your money to see it in theaters in 3-D. Sure, there's nothing actually flying at your face, but isn't it time to get rid of such cheesy effects and embrace the depth that 3-D cinema affords?

So basically, you should see this film. I'll probably only watch it once, but you won't be upset if you pay matinee prices to see this film sooner rather than later.

Mark Watney in his space suit
Mark Watney in his space suit | Source

Tl;dr

  • Strong adaptation of the book of the same name
  • Features an impressive cast with quality performances
  • Impressive visuals; arguably best space visual film you've seen all year, if not then better
  • smart film that pays homage to science and those who practice it
  • Also stays true to the science (so I'm told)
  • Possibly worth seeing it in 3-D, largely worth seeing it in theaters period
  • The Martian= Robinson Crusoe in Space

Do you plan on seeing this film?

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Further Reading

I plan on putting up a list of movies I have seen during the fall in a ranked list.

In additional news, I have put up a Page to Screen adaptation of The Martian as well.

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