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Film Review: ‘The Martian’

By Sasha Glenn

Based on the novel by Andy Weir, “The Martian” tells the story of a man who becomes stranded in desolation on Mars and his ensuing battle to stay alive.

After a storm breaks out on Mars, a NASA mission is forced to abort. In the chaos of escape, crew member Watney (Matt Damon) is believed to be dead and gets left behind.

With just enough supplies to begin the task of survival, Watney embarks on an impossible seeming mission.

The psychological aspects of the film are a mixed bag, at times seeming a bit unrealistic.

A calm and logical scientist, Watney begins tackling one problem at a time. Slightly unsettling is the delay, or complete lack of “space madness.” He doesn’t really go into a panic the way one would imagine a person alone on an alien planet with no escape route would. It’s possible this lends itself to creating a more realistic image of such a scenario, rather than playing into expectations previously set in film.

However, Watney even goes so far as to make light of the situation in his video logs. The comedy element is really enjoyable, but it’s a bit odd that he has so much humor while in peril.

At times the scenes are slow moving and tend to drag on a bit. This element of monotony actually falls in line with what the lone crew member is experiencing.

It is a well-balanced film, with just enough moments of action and suspense. It spares the audience of the drama which normally accompanies films about missions into space.

It isn’t full of sappy tear jerking scenes. Nothing is sensationalized. Even the soundtrack is very well done and not overbearing.

The graphics are absolutely stunning, but what really makes this a great sci-fi is the immense amount of thought that was put into scientific accuracy.

Weir and Director Ridley Scott worked collaboratively with James L. Green, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA to strive for a realistic depiction of survival on Mars.

A long awaited for quality sci-fi, fans of the genre will breathe a sigh of relief. I give “The Martian” 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

2nd Review By Gareth

For the crew of the Ares III, their mission to Mars is the stuff of legend. Not only have them successfully landed on Mars but have established a pre-fab community for the Astronauts to live and work during a 30 day mission to the Red Planet.

Their mission is cut short when a severe storm appears suddenly and forces the crew to abandon their base for their escape vehicle as they cannot afford to have their only way home toppled in a storm.

While preparing for their rapid departure, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck with a piece of debris and left for dead by his crew when his monitors fail to show any signs of life. Despite their best efforts, the low visibility and severe storm, compounded with the lack of vitals or ability to find his body, the crew reluctantly lifts off leaving Mark’s remains on the surface.

Mark however has survived, as the debris destroyed his monitors and left him injured, but very much alive and alone on the surface of Mars. Since he was struck by the radio dish, he has no way to contact N.A.SA. and his crew to inform them he is alive.

Mark sets out to address how to grow food on the planet and to make sure he has enough air, water, and food to last until the next manned mission is due in a few years. The fact that the landing site for the mission is a longer distance than his vehicle is capable is a problem Mark figures he will have time to address, as is his need to contact those on Earth.

What follows is a visually stunning, well-paced, and very well performed film with a terrific ensemble cast.  The real star is Damon as he has to carry large parts of the film by himself and is utterly compelling at every step.

Director Ridley Scott clearly is inspired by the source material based on the book of the same name, and never lets his impressive visuals overshadow the human drama of the film and the very real characters.

I was very impressed by the film, enough so to say that “The Martian” is one of the best films of the year and may indeed be a candidate for the Oscars. Check out this film, you will not be disappointed.

4.5 stars out of 5.

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