Very good, but my socks weren't blown off
a review by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:
HIS WAS A good movie. I was well-entertained. It’s been pretty-well received by the public, and I can see why. Even though it’s a sci-fi, it isn’t as (wonderfully) outlandish as the Star Wars or Star Trek franchises. This movie can appeal to a broader audience. Think of it as an Apollo 13 kind of drama. Like A13, it’s almost closer to a sci-real than a sci-fi.
The Martian takes place in just a few years—the early 2030s. You’ve probably heard the premise: An astronaut (Matt Damon) is left for dead on Mars; his crew-mates believe he’s gone, and due to a horrendous storm approaching (the one that ostensibly kills Damon), they have to step on it and leave.
Yet Damon lives. It’s a great “will-he-survive-?” drama. The acting is very good; the technology depicted to be in use in two decades is believable. It basically follows a predictable formula, though: Establish the scene, something happens that defines the main character’s struggle, he adjusts, something bad happens again, and all the way up to the climax, things ramp up to a fever pitch, albeit with a few necessary opportunities to catch your breath. Just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does, until everyone is together and hugs in triumph. Like I said, formula.
The character development was shallow, in my opinion. They did a good—but not great—job in fostering empathy for the people dealing with the crisis (Matt Damon included), but I could have used more humanity, more connection to emotion. In my opinion, the characters in Interstellar (which I’ll review soon) were much deeper, had more to lose (yes, more than simply their own lives), and engendered much more caring on the part of the viewer. Although “Interstellar” might not appeal to a non-sci-fi audience as much as The Martian (Interstella' takes place further in the future, and thus requires more sci-fi technology and concepts), I thought it was a better story, as far as the human condition goes. [Side note: I thought Kristin Wiig was excellent in this serious role. I hope to see her in more stuff.]
Don’t get me wrong, Matt Damon does a very, very good job in depicting his character. You’re compelled to root for him during his struggles, laugh with (and at) him during his lighter moments, and cry with him during his despair.
I do recommend The Martian. It was good. I might even watch it again. Just don’t expect a surprise ending.