REVIEW: The Martian

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The Martian is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.

During a manned mission on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney and his crew are faced with a terrible dust storm that forces them to leave the Red Planet early. But in the process of heading back to the ship, Watney is hit by a satellite dish and thrown yards away from his crew. Unable to find Watney, the crew heads for home, believing that their crewmate is dead. When Watney wakes to find his crew gone, Watney (a botanist and mechanical engineer) must find a way, with only the supplies left by his crew, to survive on Mars until the next crew comes to rescue him… four years later.

The Marian is a great film to let go of your inner geek and relax. From the beginning of the film it does such a great job of immersing you into the Mars’ atmosphere where this film takes place.  Ridley Scott’s decision to film in Jordan was excellent. Jordan’s desserts represent the barren Mars structure so well, it’s hard to separate the two. But what really made the film’s success was not so much the aesthetic, but the portrayal of the characters involved.

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Damon does an exceptional job as astronaut Mark Watney. With hardly any interaction with other actors, Damon never let’s the scene go into a lull or become boring. His scenes, no matter how “scientific” they might get, are exciting and interesting to watch. But in addition to Damon’s performance, the actors on Earth were incredible at portraying the famous government entity. The NASA Mars Mission Director, Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), as well as NASA Director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), do a great job trying to decide to best course of action in order to bring Watney home. Both Daniels and Ejiofor are constantly at each other’s throats believing that they know which process is best for the outcome of this mission. But it is Watney’s crew, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena, and Aksel Hennie, under the command of the brilliant Jessica Chastain, that excel. The crew pulls out all the stops and risks everything in order to try and achieve this mission. But in the drama surrounding the situation, it was the humor that really brought this film to life, separating it from all other sci-fi films.

It was a great choice to cast actors who had not only proved themselves in dramas, but have also proved themselves in comedies as well. It was interesting to see the likes of Kristen Wiig and Donald Glover act in a film with such a serious plotline, when we know them from mostly comedies. Those actors along with Sean Bean, Mackenzie Davis, Damon, Daniels and Pena, (basically everyone) all add those icebreakers throughout the film in order to release the tension from the serious story matter. It was a perfect blend of both drama and humor.

I haven’t seen an ensemble work with each other, at this caliber, in a while. Each character moves the plot in some form or fashion and it’s great to watch! This is by far Scott’s best film out of the past few years. With misses such as, Exodus: Gods and Kings (eh…), The Counselor (don’t get me started), and Prometheus (not as bad), it’s good to see Scott back in the groove of things.

The Martian

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kristen Wiig

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Rating: A

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