So i went to go and see this last night with my drinking buddy and all around very good friend Tom, and although we may have went to the showing in the middle of the night, in the middle of January just after Britain has actually turned into an ice box for Winter like it should, it was so fucking worth it 😀
So the Martian is based on the second syfy novel by Andy Weir written in 2011, and it is about a man called Mark Watney who gets hit by debris in a storm on Mars during the evacuation of the planet and is presumed dead, so the crew leave without him, but dun-dun-dunnnnn, he’s alive! From this point on Mark must fight all the odds to survive on this lifeless planet while Earths command and control (NASA) try and figure out a way to rescue him.
So, on that synopsis i was expecting actually quite a gripping, hard hitting story. Especially when i found out this was a hard syfy story, which is to say based very closely on what is real and doable today, now, with only a little poetic licence used. Basically, no hyper-drives, but rocket fuel, no super solution but real science and hard graft. I really did think this guy was screwed….
The Character Mark Watney was being played by Matt Damon, most remembered for his role as Jason Born, and with such a star from the action genre it only firmed my expectations for the movie to be very serious and gritty, maybe even emotional….no. Weather he stepped out of his comfort zone or not for this role, the movie turned out to be a syfy comedy and as Matt damon was almost a stand alone actor for the entire movie, i was worried as soon as i felt that comic vibe that he wouldn’t pull it off; but my mate Tom summed it up when he said to himself about 20 mins in “Yeah, this will be good, because he’s playing him well.”
Matt Damons performance was fantastic. Truly really funny and well timed when portraying the joke cannon of a character that Mark Watney is. And yet, he all so engaged me into Mark’s struggles on Mars. The writers deserve so much credit for being able to use Marks humor as a tool to engage the audience and add a personal side to Mark that we see and can relate to, and then transferring that effect onto the big screen.
The whole movie was laugh out loud funny; mostly because of Mark Watney. His attitude is just brilliant for being stuck on Mars, making light of almost every situation. For him it’s a coping mechanism but for us, it’s just so funny! He’s blurting out jokes and humorous remarks every minuet or two of screen time, and some of them in hindsight weren’t even that funny as jokes, but the way Mr. Damon delivered them made them funny.
There was all so physical humor to; my favorite of which had to be watching Mark tear apart this spaceship to make it lighter for his escape, and just thinking about the Top Gear Botswana special the whole time… But what i loved most about the humor in this movie. It was never overdone. It always was relevant to the events we were seeing on the screen and the humor used by Mark was sometimes criticized by the other characters at Command and control giving it a far more real feel. I actually found myself thinking at one point when he was composing a very strongly worded message back to Earth “You go Mark! What are they gonna do to ya?”
The hard syfy style of this movie and the believable reactions to situations and events throughout the feature made the whole experience feel so real. I was rising out of my seat in cheer when the rescue was pulled off and i was disparaging when things went wrong because i felt like i was the webcam Mark was shearing this misadventure with. I genuinely felt like i was there…. So i’m insane and need to start taking my meds again, but on a real serious note, this movie in-spite of its humor; in-spite of itself was very emotional.
Another beautiful touch was the ending. Both myself and Tom were very pleased that this movie came to a real end. You saw that everyone in the Aries 3 mission gets home safe, and that they carry on with their own lives. One has a baby, the teams leader at command who resigned after the mission took up teaching golf and Mark became a lecturer for aspiring astronauts. Rounding it off this way just helped me settle into the reality that Mark was home, and safe and well, and living a normal life…
And there’s that word real again. This movie excelled at feeling real, and connecting me to the story of Mark Watney. I would love to be stuck on Mars with Mark any day and i remember the movie fondly. This movie was well acted especially by Matt Damon, as this movie to him, well it might as well be his I am Legend in space. The pressure was on him to preform, and he did not disappoint.
Now for the more boring analytical points. I want to start with the use of music, and in this case i was far more impressed by the use of silence. As we know, in space no one can hear you scream, and the silence in this movie, it was reserved for space scenes and big impact events, and the silence was deafening. All the music in this movie is subtle, except for the jubilation at the rescue, it’s all in the background, layering the scene with atmosphere, and then when something big happens, like an accident, or space, silence. It pulls me in and gave extra focus on the visuals. I thought that was accomplished stupendously well.
Speaking of the visuals, the CGI and visual effects were complimentary to the other qualities on show in this movie. I feel like i’m over complimenting this movie but then, there was only one thing that was wrong with it:
Rubbish science: For being a hard syfy, the science should have been way more accurate. I mean, a storm on mars of that scale is impossible and using decompression of a space suit as a means of propulsion without killing yourself in the process…. I said at the start that there is a little wriggle room on hard syfy to allow the story to continue etc, like successfully pulling off that 1 in 100,000,000,000 maneuver or getting to relative safety just in the nick of time, but still, this movie pushed the boat out.
So what can i say. Perfect…. maybe if the science was more solid, but then if it were the movie wouldn’t have had the plot developments and story it deserved, being done as a movie so well by all involved in it’s production. So i say it is perfect, in-spite of it’s imperfections. What’s more, i loved it!
That Other Guy