Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

The Martian

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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 and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

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Cast

Matt Damon – Mark Watney

Kristen Wiig – Annie Montrose

Jeff Daniels – Teddy Sanders

Jessica Chastain – Melissa Lewis

Sean Bean – Mitch Henderson

Chiwetel Ejiofor – Vincent Kapoor

Kate Mara – Beth Johanssen

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Science Faction

I’ll lay it on the line: The Martian is basically about a man stranded on a planet and trying to work out a way off it, by use of his mathematical and scientific knowledge. On a positive level it’s interesting to watch him figure out how he’s going to escape – and if not – how he’ll survive. On a negative level it’s tedious; sitting watching a man wandering around (alien planet or not) whilst recording camera footage of various feats such as his ability to grow potatoes in his own shit.
(Yes. This happens.)
I’ve a mixed opinion about The Martian. The concept is brilliant – a singular man by himself on a desolate planet. But the action quickly becomes dull as the problem of stranded man loses its spark and it ultimately ends up ‘clever Matt Damon building things out of limited resources’.

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When Mark discovers he has no one but himself to get him off of Mars, he sits down and starts figuring out how he’s going to do it. Cue a hell of a lot of mathematical equations and stastistical figures as he informs the camera of the oxygen levels, lack of water, distance between various points of Mars in kilometres, etc. The guy certainly throws his qualifications at viewers. I was half switched off, half tuned in as I sat listening to him talk tallies whilst rationing potato halves. To be honest, I was craving planetary action. You know, the surface of Mars opening up and swallowing the astronaut. A subtle discovery which gave off a massive hint that Mars may actually contain life. Even just a passing space craft floating in the stars that Mark tries to signal..

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..got nothing.

No sub-plot. No undercurrent. Just Mark manoeuvring a space vehicle through red valleys whilst sending written messages back to NASA via a camera attached to the Pathfinder probe. It wasn’t the most gripping thrill-ride I’ve ever seen, but I remained moderately entertained.
So I’m torn – The Martian was minimal action but entertaining enough.
Hate it when this happens.

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Visuals

There were just two scenes in this movie where the graphics won me over. The first being when Mark is crossing a stretch of Mars surface (which is unfortunately all he seems to do for 70% of the movie). A storm approaches, which involves tornadoes. Unfortunately, the producers didn’t focus much on this but for what it was, it was great. Smokey winds, rippling twisters, good stuff.
The second scene was towards the end of the movie when the protagonist ventures into space in an attempt to be rescued. The graphics reminded me of Gravity; crystal clear clarity and glossy, it was very good.
Mars itself is nothing but towering red rock and sand, but convincing all the same. Let’s face it, in a movie such as this, we need rich CGI beaming the image of an alien planet and its environment. The audience need to be pulled in to the action as well as the atmosphere. The visuals used in The Martian did a good job of pulling this off. Not bad.

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The Concept

The concept of this movie is very original, it has to be applauded. Usually a movie involving a space mission gone wrong focuses on the survivors, not the survivor. A cluster of astronauts fannying around with weapons, running through tunnels, and moaning about the air lock. Rarely do we get a movie set in space where the protagonist is alone.
Until now.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 19.37.22And it’s a very good concept. I mean, it’s one thing being left alone somewhere deserted on planet Earth, let alone being fucked over on Mars. Far from a usual situation and very far from home, this space explorer’s predicament shrouded the movie in dread. But excitement. Splendor. But terror. And this was what won me over; the whole situation. What with open-mouthed NASA experts back on Earth staring at their screens, The Martian was boosted again by an array of talent including Daniels and Wiig. The ensemble was a nice touch as the movie shifted from Mars to Earth – not in a tedious way either which was a bonus.

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And Matt Damon. Was basically Matt Damon. The actor didn’t exactly deliver an award-winning performance, but was as effective as he could be. Confused or angry facial expressions in the right places, etc.

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As you can tell, I’m half and half about The Martian. The concept is brilliant, but the movie is basically Matt Damon in a spacesuit, informing the viewer of the mass of various elements, the atomical structure of certain compounds and other mathematical crap. If you’re a science whizz, you’ll probably love this movie. If you couldn’t care less – good luck.

I think many people will be won over by how different this movie is. I don’t tend to get sucked in by this as much as other movie fans – I try and think about the overall plot, how it works and how entertaining it is. And fortunately, I found the concept brilliant. The casting dynamic. The visuals enjoyable. Unfortunately, I found the lack of action and tedious science lessons dull. In all honesty, I would sit through The Martian a second time. But no more than that.
It’s just not worth it.

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2015 by .
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