Monday, October 19, 2015

The Martian (a movie review post)

The Martian is not the movie I expected it to be. Not that I can tell you what I expected it to be because I tend to avoid too much about movies that I want to see, these days. I suppose I expected it to be more of a story that focused on Mark Watney, himself, and the struggle of being stranded alone on a planet, like Cast Away but on Mars. Rather, it's more like Apollo 13. It's not a bad thing, just not the thing I expected.

The next thing I would say is that the movie is better than it is. What I mean by that is that it a very enjoyable movie despite the rather numerous issues it has. I'm going to chalk the issues up to Ridley Scott who has a name that means more than it should. Seriously, if you actually look at his track record, he hasn't made a whole lot of actually good movies. I say that as someone who loves Blade Runner. Basically, Scott went for flash over substance in a number of places in The Martian. It's not stuff you'll probably notice when you're watching the movie, but you probably don't want to think too hard about it after the fact.

What you do want to see the movie for -- or, I should say, who you want to see the movie for -- is Matt Damon. Damon carries the movie with an ease that appears effortless. Despite the lack of focus in the movie (remember, blaming Ridley) on the actual stranded nature of Watney, Damon allows the desperation to seep through in key scenes. But the thing that will catch you about the movie and Damon's performance is the humor and, really, good-natured-ness of the character. It's a nice contrast to his character in Interstellar, last year's space drama with both him and Jessica Chastain. Best line: "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this."

Sean Bean is also really good. It's almost worth the whole movie for the scene with him and the "Council of Elrond" and each of them arguing over whom they're going to be. So funny.

The rest of the cast was mostly as you'd expect. All good but no one pushed beyond the kind of thing they normally do. I enjoyed seeing Michael Pena again so soon after Ant-Man, but, honestly, he was under used. Not that he should have had more screen time, but his potential was wasted. As was Kristen Wiig's. Seriously, why was she even in that role? All she did was stand around and look concerned. Anyone could have done that role so why put someone with Wiig's talent in it and not use that talent?

The other standout performance was by Donald Glover. He was great as the absent-minded science guy... astrophysicist? I forget, actually, what kind of science he did, but he was great. Dumping the coffee into the wire mesh trashcan was classic, but it was the look on his face that made it work.

Basically, The Martian is a good and enjoyable movie. You should see it. I'd even watch it again, mostly for Damon's performance; however, it didn't make me at all interested in the book and, bottom line, that's actually how I judge the success of any kind of adaptation: Does it make me want to take a look at the source material? If, after having seen it, I am completely uninterested in the source material, the adaptation has failed on some level to engage me. In the end, The Martian is a "happy" movie. It's feel-good, and there's nothing wrong with that. I don't know if the book is the same, but the movie leaves me with the feeling that there's nothing deeper to explore. Again, I blame it on Ridley.

22 comments:

  1. The movie sure has been receiving tons of press. I'm a big Matt Damon fan so I should go see it.

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    1. JKIR,F!: It's definitely worth see just for him.

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  2. I'm going to this movie a try. Probably not in the theaters but I'll rent it. It's good to know I'm not the only one who thinks Kristen Wiig is more than her role in Bridesmaids (which is still one of my favorite movies).

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    1. Elsie: Did you see Paul? She's great in that, too.

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  3. You have a point about Scott. He really hasn't done a lot of great movies. This was a big step up from Prometheus though. And I did like the fact that everyone pulled together trying to get Damon's character home.
    I probably won't read the book either.

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    1. Alex: Almost anything is a step up from Prometheus. Maybe not Transformers 4 but just about anything else.

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  4. The book, fyi, was waaay better than the movie, imo. Mark Watney was so much more funny and irreverent (he swore a lot and it was very appropriate) and he explained a lot what had gone wrong and how he might be able to fix it. There was a lot of sciencey/physics talk, not all of which I got since I sucked at those subjects, but it was still fascinating and through it all Mark's wise-ass character shone through. It's my favorite book of 2015 - so far :)

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    1. mshatch: While I believe that the book is better, the movie is not, overall, interesting enough to make me believe I will get anything substantially different from the book.

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  5. I read the book and saw the movie. And mshatch is right—Mark is so funny in the book. The humor is great, not all of which made it to the screen, but I still enjoyed the movie.

    Donald Glover was the astrodynamics guy, maybe? Whatever he was, I really liked him in the role.

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    1. M.J.: "You do know I'm your boss, right?"
      "um... Yeah..."

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  6. Remind me later and I'll send you a message about The Martian (the book). I'm still eager to see the movie, but as for the book, I deem it as either the worst good book I've ever read or the best bad book, depending on how you see it.

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    1. ABftS: I've read some of those!
      Message sent.

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  7. The Martian is one SciFi film that I look forward to seeing. There aren't too many SciFi films that I get excited about and I've been disappointed in most of the recent ones that I have seen. I'll see this one though.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Lee: It's a good movie and certainly worth seeing in the theater.

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  8. I really wanted to see that movie until I heard about Matt Damon's disgusting behavior. It's unfortunate because it does sound good. Just not good enough to tolerate him for.

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    1. Jeanne: I'm not sure what behavior you're referring to. Damon seems to be more than a pretty decent guy, and I've never heard of him doing anything awful.

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  9. The book was genius in that it is about the fastest read I've come across. That it was hard SF makes me all the more impressed. But I think the movie was pretty close to the book - didn't quite capture all the humor or melodrama of the novel. But it was close enough, I think.

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    1. Rusty: From what I understand, though, it's only hard SF by accident.

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    2. Not sure I get what you mean.... please elaborate.

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    3. Rusty: Weir just wrote stuff without regard to the science when he was first writing it. But so many people started correcting him that he corrected the manuscript as people told him where he was wrong. Basically, he didn't do any research nor did he ever intend to. The science is only accurate because he had to make it that way because of people emailing him.

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  10. My husband said the movie was pretty good, but he didn't give it glowing accolades. I have yet to see it. I'll wait until it's a rental, probably, but I don't see many movies in the theaters these days.

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    1. Shannon: It is good. I entirely enjoyed watching it.

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