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It’s Feel – Good Friday.. Why Not A Film Review?

The-Martian-movie-poster Howdy!

Just returned from seeing Matt Damon in Ridley Scott’s  “The Martian” – 3-Stars – and as I have stuff in line for next week, am sending this now.

One might think that Oscar-winning director, Scott, along with a cast consisting – mainly – of Matt Damon; and capably supported by Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Eijifor, Sean Bean and Kristen Wiig, among others would get a higher rating. Yeah. That’s how I felt.



I’m not going to tip-tie through the tulips with this, so if you don’t want anything “spoiled’ stop reading. That said, the spoiler alert should have accompanied the film’s TV ads, as well as previews.

By now, most are aware the story centers around a group of astronauts doing research on Mars, under their Mission title of ARES III. While there, a storm sweeps across their research-area and Matt Damon’s “Mark Watney”, is hit by flying debris in a blinding windstorm; gets separated from his comrades and as his bio-scan went kattywumpus; after careful consideration, they all agree that he’s dead and escape in their MAV. Kind of a lunar lander but it’s on Mars, so. That scene is exciting; scary; action-filled, etc. But as I’d seen it on TV, I knew what was coming. Besides, Matt Damon’s not dying in the first 15 or 20-minutes of any movie in which he’s the star. His crewmates inform NASA; NASA informs the public, etc., etc., etc.

Then, as the commercials showed, Watney (Damon), recovers, only to find he’d been impaled by a communications antenna and, oh yeah, his oxygen alarm is ringing in his ears…which awakened him, so he makes his way back to the “Hab”, where “MacGyver-like”, he performs some “surgery” removing the head of the antenna from his lower chest and then staples the wound closed. (This is one of my “bothers”. He never had any kind of infection from that. The worst was a staple fell out, which he tells to his recorder, on which he is setting down what he’s doing, should anyone ever return. It is in these soliloquys that we learn that he is well-adjusted to the fact that the odds against him surviving are very minimal. That said, Bother #2. (Oops. wait a minute. Martian days are referred to as “Sols”. I checked and a Martian day is anywhere from 24-hours; 37-minutes; 22 seconsd, to 24-hours; 39 minutes, etc. Let’s just say 24.5 hours.) In all the time he is on Mars in abject isolation, with only his Mission Commander’s “lousy disco music” and reruns of “Happy Days” to distract him, there is only one scene in which the gravity of his situation really gets to him. Yes, I get it. He’s a “Can-do” kinda guy and no way is he not surviving without a fight. OK. But by film’s end, 519-sols later, I believe, he only has one, brief interlude of a 2:25-minute film where his depression shows through? Oh yeah. Once back in the “Hab”, realizing his situation, he drops an F-bomb. I turned to MBh and said, “It’s about time.” I mean, any guy I know, woulda carpet-f-bombed the Mars-scape, by then. Yeah. A quibble. The CGI were great.

The supporting cast at NASA, Daniels, Eijifor, Bean and Wiig, were excellent. Especially Donald Glover’s “Rich Purnell”, who discovers the key to rescuing Watney. And that is my biggest Bother! Do not read any further if you don’t recall the commercials, as this is a dead giveaway. Purnell works at the JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) in astrodynamics. At about the 30 or 40% point in the film, when asked about a certain tactic being proposed by NASA, he comments on the difficulty of it and says something like, “They might as well do…”. The he’s off to a super-computer working on his figures, which he confirms that instead of having to wait however long it’d take for ARES IV to launch in 400 or 500 sols, why not turn ARES III around and send them back? This would jave been great! But since I’d scene Jessica Chastain’s scene where she says they’re doing it, I knew. So, whatever dramatic-tension Scott was trying to build, the studio’s marketing and ad departments equally squashed. That was a shame, as many…me included…who’d seen those ads knew the crew was going to go back for him. It wasted all the time where NASA-types argued whether or not to inform them he was alive, etc. Too bad.

A couple other bothers: they never show him shave, yet he has no beard growth…not even a Sonny Crockett-look. Only at the film’s end, are his teeth discolored; though he did not have sufficient water to brush them. Once rescued, he says he hadn’t had a shower in a year; yet he seldom looked dirty, despite working out in the Martian dust. Despite devising a way to grow potatoes…you’ll hafta go see it…he hardly shows any weight loss until the very end, where it’s stupid-obvious they used a double, who was skinny and whose skin had many abrasions from not being kept clean.

That said. IT IS an uplifting film. The cast does very well and other than me thinking a man would have more than one bout with being depressed over his total, utter, isolation, with little to no chance of surviving, it was still worth the price of admission. You need not see it in 3D, nor on IMAX.

We went to the early show; $5.85/each, so not a big cost.



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