Spectacular visuals, great acting and story.
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by debris on Mars as a storm hits and forces his crew consisting of Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Beth (Kate Mara), Chris (Sebastian Stan), Vogel (Aksel Hennie) and Martinez (Michael Pena) to evacuate, leaving him for dead. Watney survives and needs to find a way to get more food. While back in NASA, Mindy (Mackenzie Davis) realizes movement on Mars and notified Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean), Annie Montrose (Kristen Wiig), Bruce (Benedict Wong) and Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) who try to figure a way to save Watney. Donald Glover is also in this as Rich Purnell who figures out a potential way to bring the Martian back. Directed by Ridley Scott.
Movies about space seem to be the new ‘dystopia’ movie with its rising popularity. We had Interstellar and Gravity, and both were very heavy and intense films. So it was a nice change for The Martian to have a lighter mood while still having space complications. The humour of Watney’s character complements the film nicely and helps to lift the mood of the seriousness of his situation.
Damon plays his role superbly and delivers his lines perfectly. His delivery is very natural and the vlogs that he does (which ultimately speaks directly to us) is informative without being too obvious of a tell. The chemistry between him and the rest of the crew members are well formed, especially with Chastain and Pena. There was even a hint of something else going on with Chastain and Damon’s characters but that might just have been too much of Holywood’s influence that made me think that. Glover does a fantastic job as a sort of ‘mad scientist’ of the computer generation, and there is a hint of Troy (from Community) in there too. Ejiofor too does a great job as the communication link between NASA and Watney. Pretty much all actors and actresses held their own. The inclusion of so many characters with quite equal screen time (save for Damon) shows how the people working in NASA all need to collaborate in this highly sensitive atmosphere.
The visuals of Mars are impressive, and according to my friend those Mars scenes were shot in The Grand Canyon. The desolate landscape and reddish brown colour of the dirt is convincing as an alien planet and the structures and equipment used there seems quite realistic. The design of everything is great, down to the visual effects and soundtrack.
I am not really concerned about the physics and mathematics of the film, and choose to believe that what happened in the film can be done. The collaboration between NASA to help Watney figure out ways to survive is also shown in a montage which was cool to watch. What was not realistic was Watney’s body transformation. I realize that weight loss would have been tremendous, but there are a few shots of a very skinny body with the face hidden which was definitely not Matt Damon and that bothers me.
Overall, an impressive film with an engaging story, great acting and cool visuals that will transport you away.
PROS: Acting, story, visuals, editing
CONS: Body swap
I give this an 8/10.
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