Hey guys! I’m new to WordPress, so to get a feel for the site and how it suits my hobbies of reviewing movies, my first reviews/posts will be ones that I’ve already written. In the spirit of the new year, I will be posting only my “Top 10” and “Bottom 5” movies of 2015 (or at least for the ones I wrote reviews for). Enjoy and let me know what everyone thinks. 🙂
Matt Damon. ‘Nuff said. But the rest of the cast was interesting too. Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, just to name a few. This film was star-studded like there was no tomorrow. Funny thing, I couldn’t help but think that the movie was just INTERSTELLAR but with Damon as the lead, instead of a supporting character. But hey, I’m always down for a sci-fi, so what did I care?
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is a botanist for NASA, who is with a team of other specialists on a mission on Mars for study. However, a fierce storm forces them to escape the area. Mark is caught in the storm and rendered unconscious. His team tries to find him, but the storm is too much and they leave him behind. Mark wakes up, the storm has past, and he figures out a way to survive. Even better, he learns of a way to communicate with Earth and so begins a race to save Mark before his means of survival won’t save him.
I went in thinking this would be a good movie. Damon doesn’t disappoint. But… this movie isn’t just good. It’s fantastic. It’s not even just fantastic, I think this movie is one of the best movies all year. I’m placing it nicely in my top 5 films of the year. I think if you don’t see this movie, you are doing yourself a disservice. I’ve been calling it the SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION in space. Yeah… I think it’s THAT good.
What can I say about this movie? Everything is perfect. The sets are perfect. The acting is perfect. Fuck, the story is perfect. Okay, maybe the science isn’t perfect, but you know what, suspend your disbelief and you have yourself one of the best and most enjoyable sci-fi films in years.
Damon is a powerhouse of fun in this movie. No matter what’s happening to him, impaled by a piece of shrapnel, starving, freezing, he’s always on standby with a funny line to lighten the mood. His comedic timing had everyone in the auditorium laughing at every joke made. “I am going to dip this potato in crushed Vicodin and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it.” The more I think about that, the more I laugh. And that’s just one scene. The movie is chalk full of humor like that.
The set-up is awesome. The movie wisely doesn’t explain how this crew managed a trip to Mars. This movie doesn’t take place in the future or anything. It just shamelessly shows that Damon and company are on Mars doing science stuff. Then shit hits the fan and a radio dish flies off their escape ship and smacks against an ill-fated crew member. Honestly, I didn’t realize it was Damon at first. The incident happens so fast and his face isn’t really seen as it happens, I almost thought it was a secondary character that ate it. Probably should have seen that, as I do fucking know what this movie is about.
While the set-up of the movie is smart, how the story itself kicks off is… actually not so smart. In fact, it’s downright stupid. Alright, so the crew is on Mars doing their science stuff. They have to get out of dodge because a powerful sand storm is about to hit them. Alright, I gotcha so far. The storm hits and Mark gets the business end of flying debris and the crew thinks he’s dead. Yeah, okay, makes sense so far. They hop aboard their escape ship and leave Mars back for Earth… just like that. Um… yeah, some of you may recall on my Facebook status that I specifically went to see this film a second time for this plot hole to make sure I didn’t miss an explanation to it. Nope, there is no reason why they just high-tailed it back to Earth. Why does this bother me so much? Because… why didn’t the surviving crew just hang out above Mars’ atmosphere and wait out the storm? I mean, there’s probably millions upon millions of dollars worth of NASA’s space shit down there and you guys won’t just wait a day and go get it? Which would also give you the time to properly look for Mark’s supposed body, whom you would have found him alive, but unwell. There’s no explanation why the mission had to be completely scrubbed because of this one storm. NASA would have known about Mars’ sandstorms and would have prepared for those… which they did because the facility that Mark stays in throughout the story is so squeaky clean from the storm he doesn’t even have to clear sand from anywhere. Everything works fine… and the Aries III crew just left it there with no effort to visually verify if everything was truly destroyed beyond salvage.
Beyond that, as I said, the science is probably bullshit. But then again, so is the science behind the Jurassic Park franchise and I don’t hear any complaints when the movie gets popped on. THE MARTIAN is no different. The movie assumes that the soil on the planet is biologically compatible with our plant-life, but I am guessing that the way you make water (Or was it oxygen?) is scientifically accurate. If not, hey, it seemed legit.
Honestly, the first 2/3 of the movie is just all about how Mark works at surviving on the planet. He has to come up with ways to create fresh water, communicate with Earth (fucking awesome how they end up pulling it off), rationing food so it will last over a year, and the movie goes step by step in all of it. As soon as Mark discovers a new way to survive, he celebrates with a smug and cocky remark, and we feel relieved and happy with him. Every single time.
This now segues into one of the films possible oopsies. Hear me out, the film is long. Two and a half hours long. I know the length is part of the movie as well, which is another fun comparison I make with SHAWSHANK. The movie wants you to feel like you’ve been on this planet for as long as Mark’s been, just further adding to the empathy you feel for him. And like I said above, the first 2/3 of the movie is almost a step-by-step survival guide for Mark. So once his rescue is announced and is on its way to him, the movie almost jumps that far ahead. We’ve been with him almost every step of the way, but the movie is clearly aware of how long it is and doesn’t give us a run down of what Mark’s been up to during that time… you know, other than getting scary thin, but weirdly toned. Obviously, this movie could have easily been an additional two and a half hours longer, but… despite it’s already lengthy… er, length, I almost wish I could see more of Mark’s survival during that time while he was waiting. Surly he had to have faced additional challenges, other problems he had to fix. But I guess when all is said and done, my complaint is that the movie wasn’t longer. Here’s hoping that there’s a five hour uncut version when it gets released onto Blu-Ray.
The movie doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. For as much joy and excitement that the movie provides, there are those moments that aren’t so happy. When a problem presents itself, you really get the sense that Mark is trying his hardest to figure it out. You feel the urgency in his deductions. And when things go completely wrong, you feel his pain, his suffering, or even worse, his hopelessness. Which is completely heartbreaking considering how upbeat, optimistic, and downright likable he is. You don’t want bad things to happen to him, but I guess that’s just one more great thing to add to this movie’s long list of fantastic qualities: it’s ability to get you attached.
Despite the ONE plot-hole that I found in the movie, it doesn’t ruin it. The rest of the film is such a great deal of fun and tension that it almost doesn’t matter. This is bar-none one of the best films of the year and I think everyone should see this movie.