The Martian Review

30 Sep


The Martian is mainly concerned with being entertaining, with using humor to combat the desperation that might accompany an extended stay on a paradise like Mars. There’s a lightheartedness that pervades the entire movie, and although that does weaken some of the bigger emotional moments, it’s still a fun change of tone after intense films like Gravity and Interstellar (both of which are superior, by the way). This is a celebration of human intelligence, of cooperation and a can-do attitude. What’s refreshing about it is that it’s not dominated by contrived suspense sequences that are the results of infuriatingly dumb character decisions. These people know what they’re doing, perhaps even too well. Mark Watney in particular makes surviving on Mars look like a stroll through the park, but then again, that’s part of the charm of the movie.

Not all of the humor works out, but it’s a very important aspect of the experience. Matt Damon is never not entertaining throughout, and he understands exactly what the role calls for in terms of balancing tone. Whether he’s dancing to “Hot Stuff” or science-ing the shit out of Mars or feeling the impact of his isolation, he makes up for an otherwise weak group of characters who serve as nothing more than faces in a crowd. Yeah, rah rah teamwork, but when you’ve got the likes of Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, and more in your cast, you’d be better served actually focusing on and developing characters.

Of course, Scott and co. aren’t really going for character or theme. They’re all about the fun in this journey, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. When the fun doesn’t really feel like it coheres with anything in the end, though, we’re left with a movie that never quite gets going before it’s over. Nevertheless, it’s worth enjoying while it lasts. Mark Watney and his potatoes make sure of that.




-Dariusz Wolski uses the valleys of Jordan here to form his Mars filming foundation. He does a solid job, although I’m still more excited to see what another Darius–Khondji–does next.

-There’s a Lord of the Rings joke in this movie that’s definitely funny.

Photo credit: The Martian, Scott Free Productions



6 Responses to “The Martian Review”

  1. killkenny16 October 4, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    I just saw this movie yesterday. It’s pretty safe to say that I liked it a lot more than you did, but now that I think of it, Jessica Chastain didn’t get too much to do…

    Also, weird that this is the second straight year that she and Matt Damon have appeared in a high-profile space drama. Huh.

  2. boxofficebuzzab October 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    I really liked this one and was surprised by the amount of humor but thought that for the most part it worked very well. The cinematography was also beautiful.

  3. Jordan Dodd October 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    Interesting thoughts, I seem to be on a lonely island with this flick! I can definitely see the appeal, though the feel-good nature of the film is one of the things that put me off. But I can see why it’d be enjoyable. Great review btw

  4. Sarah Roney Dalton November 4, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

    “One does not simply slingshot around the Earth. Mars is red and full of dust but Space is dark and full of terrors. One must do a resupply with the Tiang Shen probe and then perform a fly-by rendezvous with the MAV. Not with five crewmen could you do this. It is folly.”

  5. Ant February 11, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    This is a far better film than either Interstellar or Gravity. Gravity relies on its atmospherics to prop its quite mundane story and Interstellar was much less human and slower. This film made me invest in all the characters, especially Whatney and the “comedy” aspect made him a much more believable and human character than most other films can portray.


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