Monday, October 19, 2015
The Martian (a movie review post)
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.