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Astronaut Matt Damon

REVIEW: The Martian

filmgob filmgob This review contains spoilers!

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to survive and return to Earth.

Based on a best-selling novel by Andy Weir, The Martian is directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay by Drew Goddard. The cast is stacked with Matt Damon as the stranded astronaut, his NASA bosses which includes Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean and Kristen Wig. The rescue crew features Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña and Kate Mara among others. With so many big names, it's amazing how well the characters are portrayed and the amount of time spent is measured just right for each.

As always with Ridley Scott, the visuals are stunning, from the lifeless yet beautiful landscape of Mars, to the high tech rovers and space stations. Still, practical sets and effects aren't ignored. The original musical score flows wonderfully in the background, a touch of 'Alien' here and there.

There are highs and lows, moments of triumph (growing potatoes) and helplessness (the base entrance malfunction and explosion), but overall the film is more feel good adventure than a typical bleak sci-fi drama. The comedic dialogue, not often the case with recent Scott projects, was surprising. Science heavy at times but not too distracting. Tension is regularly relieved by the witty Matt Damon, Ejiofor and his team, even the soundtrack plays it's part with classic disco hits and of course some Ziggy Stardust too. It all results in the runtime of over two hours flying by with it's perfect pacing and by the end of it, i actually wished for a bit more.

However the tone at times became super cheesy, such as the Chinese space agency who come to the rescue with valuable technological assistance, and the eye rolling scene of thousands of people cheering in the streets of England and China during the rescue mission being televised around the globe, it felt silly and odd.

Overall, it's not a masterpiece, but The Martian is an entertaining, weird mix of science and laughs that somehow works well without the need for predictable blockbuster cliches.


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