October 6, 2015

The Martian: Movie Review

The Martian is the best film about science in a long time.

Matt Damon seems to always draw the short straw when it comes to getting off an alien planet. This time around he plays Mark Watney, a NASA botanist who is left on Mars after his crew mistakes him for dead. He must survive for the next 12 months with nothing but his own feces, his wit, and Mars' evil mother-nature-like shenanigans. Alright, it sounds worse than it really is, but Watney is given insurmountable odds, and he miraculously overcomes each of them. This is the fun of The Martian. Even if you don't like science, you'll come to appreciate it a bit more.

Now, if you're not the type of person who enjoys any aspect of science, then you might want to stay away from this film. The dialogue doesn't dumb anything down. Instead, it's a one-two punch, with the characters speaking the science lingo, then showing how this science happens without going too deep into the mechanics. Watney provides huge words before he starts creating an ecosystem. All the lingo would definitely be hard to follow, but director Ridley Scott and writer Drew Goddard make it work by showing the simple step-by-step processes.

The film's science and Matt Damon's performance are the bread and butter to the film. Once you get past those, the film is noticeably dull and overstuffed. There are about fifteen more secondary characters that all fight for screen time and development. The fight to save Watney's life is the same in this movie like in any other: emotion versus reason. And, the finale feels like Independence Day.

This isn't Gravity. This is the exact opposite. Mark Watney wants to get off his planet and into space so he can start heading home. No matter the film's faults, it is enjoyable watching Matt Damon fight against all odds by using science to solve his way out of a pickle. Too bad we couldn't have Aaron Paul's, Jesse Pinkman yell out, "Science b****," every time Damon found a way to persevere.

Good Qualities: Matt Damon's performance, science, and the story.
Bad Qualities: Many secondary characters, not too deep a story.

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