It’s better than Interstellar and Gravity, alright? Let’s just get that out of the way. In fact, you know what? I have a great comparison: this movie is essentially Gravity if Gravity had endearing characters. Or a worthwhile plot. Or, you know, a soul.
The Martian is the best damn space movie I’ve ever seen. That’s not saying much as I’ve never really loved a space movie before (Star Wars is fun and all, but let’s be real guys). Still, it’s a compliment that’s definitely due for a movie of this quality. Ridley Scott is back in the game baby, and he’s playing to win!
It’s a movie about Mark Watney (Matt Damon), a botanist who gets stranded on Mars and has to grow potatoes while he waits for a rescue team over the course of a few years. It sounds so stupid, I know, yet the execution is AMAZING. Potato-growing is really only around thirty minutes of the movie, with the other two hours consisting of the best bits of NASA drama I’ve seen on the big screen and a hell of a lot of cool Mars cinematography.
Matt Damon, as you can tell by his smarmy face on the front of every poster for this movie, is obviously the one carrying the brunt of the screen time. And you know what? He nails it. He’s solid. I liked him in this movie. It almost made me forget how much of a politically correct goody two-shoes tool he was in Entourage (which, honestly, is probably more profile than parody of his real-world self). So yeah, if this were real life I’d like Damon to reach earth again, is what I’m saying.
Everyone else in the cast was awesome as well. Kate Mara was great, Michael Pena (forgive the lack of an accent of the “n”, no idea how to format that in) was (Inter)stellar, and OH MY GOD IS THAT SEBASTIAN STAN?? He’s gone from Winter Soldier to Galactic Soldier and it’s pretty great. He’s pretty great. Stan’s the man. Oh, and everyone else in the movie was great (Kristen Wiig, the two [three, technically] Chinese actors, Chitiwel Adjakfoar [I am NOT googling how to spell his name properly, he just needs to cut that thing down to a syllable or two at max], the NASA director [was he the dude from Full House??], etc.).
The soundtrack is really good. And no, I’m not referring to the shitty ’70’s disco stuff… though it did work, in the movie’s defense. Yes, even Abba. Anyway, Harry Gregson-Williams (responsible for some shitty soundtracks, admittedly, like Black Hat‘s) nails the desolate Mars survival atmosphere of the movie with his original score, the pieces of music I’m really referring to when I praise this movie’s soundtrack. I’m going to make a point of mentioning worthy soundtracks in movies because people just don’t do that enough these days. This guy put in work and it shows.
My only real issues with the movie stem from the actual source material in the Andy Weir novel, which involves the plot advancing based off of one coincidence to the next. Circumstances align in such a way that Watney is given exactly the amount of tools he needs to succeed, no more or less, almost like he’s in a Portal testing chamber. And while this was bothering me at first in the movie, the fact that the plot implements one random negative coincidence against him for every freebie it gives him made me appreciate the overall narrative a hell of a lot more. Oh, Watney magically found a way to grow potatoes on Mars? Well, Mars says fuck you and tears your little garden in half during a sandstorm. Ha.
Speaking of fucks, Watney drops two of them verbally within the first half hour of this movie, and alludes to like four more usages later. I am digging this whole “MPAA doesn’t care about language anymore” theme. The sooner we stop being offended by goddamn spoken four-letter combinations, the sooner movies like this can be entertaining and realistic with their dialogue.
Well, that about sums up my ramblings regarding The Martian. Go see it because it’s amazing. Yeah.