Entertainment Monday Review: The Martian starring Matt Damon *SPOILER ALERT*
Trailer from Youtube
I do not get out to the movies often these days with my busy work schedule, but when visiting my mom this weekend during a brief holiday from work I had the opportunity to go to a movie with her and my niece Katrina, who was back from college for a short break. Mom and I let Katrina choose between Tom Hank's new film Bridge of Spies and Matt Damon's new movie The Martian. I'm not sure she loved the choice of either but she diplomatically chose the Martian without any complaint.
The Martian has a pretty straight forward story line. Matt Damon's character Mark Watney who is part of a U.S. Space mission to Mars gets stranded on the planet when his crew leaves him, believing him to be dead after they flee the planet during a bad storm. Fortunately or unfortunately for Watney he survives the storm with something more than a superficial wound but nothing life threatening physically. He goes back to the now unmanned station on Mars and has to figure out a way to survive for four years until the next planned Space Mission to the planet.
Watney is a botanist who is able to figure out how to grow enough potatoes from the crews left over stock to survive on, but he is also very resourceful and knowledgeable when he is forced to make repairs.
The U.S. based space operations out of NASA believe Watney to be dead and hold a funeral for him, but find out 36 days after they left him on the planet that he is still alive. Watney works out a way to make contact with NASA when he repairs the MARS Rover which was left on the planet years earlier. This allows him to fix other things that need fixing and come up with survival ideas until they are able to formulate a plan to rescue him from the Red Planet.
Time is of the essence when you're stranded on a planet with little to no means of growing food. Various obstacles get in the way and make Watney's survival an even bigger challenge but he perseveres. NASA has two plans of rescue: one which gets him home sooner but risks the lives of his crew mates and the other which will take longer but not be as risky. The director will only approve the second lest risky plan. Meanwhile, NASA contacts his crew (only after Mark asks them to) who are on their way back to Earth and let them know Mark survived approximately 3 months after he was stranded. The crew members who all have families at home feel obligated to go back and get Mark once the plan that NASA execs turned down gets covertly forwarded to them against the directors wishes. They vote unanimously to take action and head back to Mars and rescue Mark. The crew members actions override the less risky plan, which may not have been achieved in time to rescue Mark after some malfunctions at the base station which cause his food supply to die off.
Once the crew gets back to Mars a dangerous and highly risky plan witch has many issues crop up is undertaken in an effort to bring him home. Does Mark get back? Do his crew members survive the return trip? Well, you'll just have to watch the film to find out.
All in all though I thought the filmography was very good. Matt Damon did an excellent acting job and his emotions looked genuine which is something I've even see good actors have trouble portraying. When he was angry or upset or going a little bit loopy from all his time spent alone he was completely believable. Some of the situations he found himself in, or the solutions he created could probably be picked apart but on the hole the movie pulls you in and it's easy to feel the stress and anxiety of the situation as you watch the film.
I think it's challenging to act when there are not other characters you are directly interacting with, because it's a bit of an usual situation in a movie. Watney does have interaction, with crew members and people from NASA who are trying to assist him, but little of it is face to face. Damon does a great job rising to the challenges of the roll.
It's worth going to movies to see. I would not go multiple times to the theater to see it as that's an honor I reserve for very few movies. I would definitely watch it again some day if I saw it on television in a few years. I will not classify the movie as elite or as a favorite of mine, but it was absolutely a solid film which was entertaining. I think my mom felt the same way I did about the movie.
My niece for her part said afterwards, "It was actually a lot better then I thought it would be when I watched the preview". So hopefully she doesn't mind too much my sharing her two cents on the topic here.
If you have seen or get to see the Martian, please feel free to share your opinions on the film in our comments section!