Movie Review: “The Martian” – Surprisingly Good

Written by Caitlin Cooper October 15, 2015

the martian

Let’s face it, space dramas are a sub-genre of film that has been done again and again. Some of them are good, and provide both a good script and awesome visuals. Others, not so much. The trailer for “The Martian” looked promising to me, but after listening to the hype for 2013’s “Gravity” and being so thoroughly disappointed with it, I was a bit iffy about this one. Turns out a space drama based on a book can be better than one that’s completely original.

“The Martian”, based on the best-selling book by Andy Weir, is a story of survival and friendship against the odds. On a mission to Mars, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) and his fellow astronauts are caught in an intense storm. But only Mark is hit by debris, and with no way to find him before his oxygen runs out, his crew believes him to be dead and leaves his body behind. The catch is, Mark isn’t dead, and now he’s stranded alone on Mars. He’ll have to get creative and do everything he can to survive long enough to figure out how to send a call for help and wait for it to arrive.

“It has been seven days since I ran out of ketchup.”

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really expect to enjoy “The Martian”. But it turns out the film exceeded my expectations. Right from the start, the film is a good balance of comedy and intensity. In a movie where the main character is literally stuck in the same place, things could’ve gotten stale fast. But the plot is always moving, and we get to see the story from various perspectives. Mark really fights hard to survive – he’s lucky he had the ability and the knowledge to do what he did – and also tries to keep his spirits up so he doesn’t go crazy or depressed. He’s sarcastic and witty, which is the perfect counterpart to the otherwise serious tone. “The Martian” poses some interesting questions: save one or save many, sacrifice or assured survival. The president of NASA, Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), doesn’t want to risk the rest of the crew to save Mark. Others, including the crew, don’t agree with that and they disobey him. It’s a beautiful moment when the crew decides to go back and save their friend once they’re told he’s alive. While Mark cracks jokes for the majourity of the film, there are moments when you see his frustration and his fear. The ending, however, is a bit abrupt and ends with a cliche line. But if you can overlook some minor issues like that, then this film is really entertaining. I laughed, and I was riveted.

the martian

“The Martian” is jam-packed with talented actors. Damon plays Mark with both wit and vulnerability. You feel for him, and you feel with him. Jessica Chastain as Commander Melissa Lewis does tend to be a little monotone in her line delivery, but other than that she does well. Sean Bean plays Mitch Henderson, an employee at NASA who fights hard for Mark to be saved despite the president of NASA’s wishes. He acts as the moral compass in a room of people that care more about appearances than saving a person’s life. There are also actors like Kristin Wiig, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Chiwetel Ejiofor that add both comedy and emotion to the film.

“If you solve enough problems you get to come home.”

I may have doubted how well it would turn out, but “The Martian” is definitely a must-watch film. It combines laugh out loud comedy and intense drama quite well with only some minor script issues. In the hands of screenwriter Drew Goddard and director Ridley Scott, along with a talented cast, audiences are drawn into Mark’s tale of survival when the outcome looks bleak. It might be easy to dismiss the film as ‘been there done that’, but then you’d be missing out on “The Martian”, and that would be a shame.

My Rating: 8/10

the martian

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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