Movie Review: The Martian

Mreed911

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Apr 18, 2013
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NO SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW - PLEASE DON'T POST SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS

I got to see a screening of The Martian, the new movie starring Matt Damon based on the book by Andy Weir.


Caveat: I know Andy, sort of. I worked with him until he got his book deal. I never interacted with him much but knew who he was, what type of software engineer he was, and that he'd been writing as a passion for years, mostly on the web in short stories or serials.

The Martian is true science fiction - fiction, in the future, with a focus on the hard science that could be possible based on what we have today. The basic plot premise is this: On a manned mission to Mars, one astronaut gets left behind and everyone has to figure out "what next?" Can we rescue him? Can he survive until rescue? Will anything else go wrong? Think of it as Cast Away meets 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I'd read the book and knew how much this was a story about the technical details of survival along with the mental state required to try and maybe succeed. Very strong writing with very real characters. I was excited to see Ridley Scott pick it up and even more to see Matt Damon sign on as lead.

Rating: PG-13
Nudity: Briefly. Matt Damon's butt.
Sex: None.
Language: Strong. Matt's character has no problem with Carlin's seven dirty words... but he sort of earns the right to use them. The things you think to yourself when you're alone and frustrated.Violence: None.

I sat down with really high expectations. This was going to have to be on the production level with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apollo 13 and had to be at least as captivating (if not more) as Interstellar, which it will inevitably get compared against. This is where choice of Ridley Scott vs. Chris Nolan ended up working out well... but more on that later.

The movie jumps right in where the book starts and you get introduced to most of the main characters, get a glimpse of who they are, how they work together and their knowledge of how dangerous their "simple" jobs are on another planet 2+ years from home. It tells a linear story from that point forward. As with any good story, there's a "slingshot" at the front that's no spoiler - Matt gets left behind (I won't explain how - that's worth seeing) and the rest of the crew leaves. You've seen most of what he has to work with, and the rest of the movie is "how do I survive" and "can we rescue him and if so, how?"

Jeff Daniels plays the head of NASA and really does a good job portraying the person in charge of a government agency in terms of the decisions he makes, how he drives his teams and grappling with all the concerns beyond one stranded astronaut. He pulls of being able to be hated and pitied at the same time.

The set creation and cinematography were fantastic. Having been a kid at Space Camp, studied Mars Landing manuals as a teenager, etc., I read this book with pictures in my head. I wasn't disappointed at all by the movie. No unbelievable tech, no transporters, no annoying computer companion. Spot on.

The score/music, partially dictated by the book, was perfect. You found yourself laughing/reacting to songs as much as lines from characters (a minor plot arc in itself).

Obviously, as with any adaptation, parts of the book were skipped to turn the story into a movie that's not a Lord of the Rings epic. I personally wished they'd carried one more conflict/plot arc through because it held significance in the story but understand why it was cut from the movie. It being missing (compared to the book), however, doesn't take away from the film AT ALL. If you've not read the book, you'll never notice any sort of discontinuity.

My verdict? I'll be back on opening night with a paid ticket to make sure my "vote" registers for this movie in terms of blockbuster sales. It's one of the best movies of the year and EASILY a contender for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor.

If you like action/survival movies, you'll love this film. You DO NOT need to be a "space geek" to get it and you won't get lost in the story if you're not technical.

If you're into "what happens when the shit hits the fan," this is the movie for you. Three thumbs up. :)
 

AustinN4

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Nov 27, 2013
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Sounds good, and thanks for the review. Do you recommend reading the book first, or no?

ETA: Just added the Ebook to my que at APL. Only 4 ahead of me.
 
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acorneau

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Feb 5, 2014
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Thanks for the nice review.

I'm usually not interested in most of Hollywood's offerings but when I saw the trailer for this I knew I wanted to see it.

I like more realistic movies over the CGI spooge-fests that most people are attracted to, and good Sci-Fi is a favorite, so this is right up my alley.
 

robertc1024

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Jan 22, 2013
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Thanks for the write up. I read about it in one of my engineering trade magazines and they highly recommended it also.
 

shortround

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Jan 24, 2011
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I will wait for the DVD.

Note: I have more than thirty DVDs to watch.

Just can't get my ass to a movie house, then when the DVD comes out, I buy it, but other shit occupies my time.

Be well.
 

karlac

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Aug 21, 2013
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Saw Andy on TWIT just as the book first came out.
Went straight to Amazon and bought the Kindle version.
One of the best SF offerings, in the spirit of Neal Stephenson, to come out in years.
Not a movie fan, particularly this day and age, but wouldn't miss it for anything.
 

Jakashh

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Jun 30, 2010
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i'll put it on my to watch list.
 
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