Okay! For once in my life, I saw this movie around the time it came out in theaters, instead of around the time it came out on Netflix (going to theaters is hard). I really only do this for Marvel movies and movies based on books I liked. And I really liked The Martian. Not only did I, as a sci-fi fan, love the book, several people I know who are in no way sci-fi people (one who hasn’t seen Star Wars, in fact, and yes, those people exist) loved it as much as I did. So I had a lot riding on this movie.
First things first: when I mentioned this movie to a friend, his response was “Damn, how many movies revolve around people losing Matt Damon?” This hadn’t occurred to me yet, but actually, wow, Matt Damon is apparently really easy to lose, as this image demonstrates:
What is that? Anyway, the movie, like the book, is about Mark Watney, astronaut and botanist (in the book he’s also a mechanic, but that honestly isn’t important) who gets separated from his crew on a mission to Mars. Alone on an entire planet, he has to stay alive while back on Earth scientists scramble to find a way to bring him home. Like I said, I loved that book, and somehow, this movie failed to disappoint me. I absolutely expected it to fail to live up to the book in some way or other, but… it basically didn’t. Let’s get into specifics:
The script was the book brought to life. There were certain things scaled down, like the romance between 2 of Watney’s shipmates, and several of my favorite lines from the book were cut, but there were also lines I loved in the movie that weren’t in the book. The Martian is interesting because there’s no antagonist. None. Just Mars, and Mars isn’t even really evil. It just… is, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, but maybe we can help this one guy survive a little bit longer. The movie, I think, might have captured that sense better than the book.
The reason the movie can do this so well is that Mars looks amazing. Check this out:
The visual effects are stellar. They just took my breath away. I really don’t know what else to say.
Aside from Mars, the only player in much of the movie is Matt Damon. Who is excellent, thank God. Mark Watney isn’t exactly the most fleshed-out character: we don’t know much about his life on Earth or what he does when not battling for his life. But it still felt like Damon could have told you all about that, had you asked. He was funny, endearing, and indomitable, and I think Damon could have carried the whole movie if he had to,
But he totally didn’t have to. The ensemble cast, both back on Earth and on the ship that left Watney behind, was spectacular-I didn’t expect this at all, I thought they’d be minimized, but I’m not complaining! Jessica Chastain was great as the captain who made the call to leave Watney behind, Sean Bean was weirdly good as the mission director and the only person advocating to tell the crew of Watney’s ship that he survived (they thought he was dead), and Donald Glover was briefly excellent as Rich Purnell, astrophysicist. Jeff Daniels and Chiwetel Ejiofor (yes, in the book his character was Indian, and yes, it’s kind of dumb that they changed that, but I still thought he was good) were also worth mentioning, as well as many others that I am just too lazy to name. Sorry. Watch this movie.
Incidentally, this is how I found out the movie was happening:
Okay, I hope I conveyed my love for this movie enough. Back soon (this time for real)!