The Martian: An ode to positive thinking
Movie Review – The Martian
This week I was finally able to take a few hours off and catch The Martian while it’s still in theaters. I wasn’t too familiar with the story beforehand, I was mostly aware of it through the huge hype and rave reviews that the book has had since its re-release in 2014.
My sole knowledge was that the plot consisted of an astronaut – Mark Watney played by Matt Damon – who’s left stranded by accident on a mission to Mars. The thing for me is that when it comes to Mars, when I hear the planet mentioned in any sort of Sci-Fi context, it always comes back to Ray Bradbury. On the other side, when I think of loneliness in space, my mind goes to either Solaris or 2001: A Space Odyssey. So I ran with those two pieces of information in my head and went to the theater expecting something of a mixture of those things. But all those were my expectations, not what the movie actually is.
The Martian turned out to be an ode to positive thinking and the resilience of the human spirit, a story of one man’s journey for survival through the direst circumstances imaginable. A tribute to never giving up and an outstanding celebration of science.
“I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.”
— Mark Watney in The Martian
By focusing the story on those aspects and always bringing out the bright side, Matt Damon’s charming and funny performance in combination with Ridley Scott’s impeccable direction and the beautiful photography of Dariusz Wolski, the film overcomes some of the few character shortcomings of the screenplay. Most of the supporting characters are not really fleshed out, including to some extent Damon’s. Unfortunately, we never really get to know much about his life on Earth before this adventure, and a connection through some family or even friend mourning and hoping for his safe return would have made the story all the more touching.
The other thing that the story completely ignores is the fact that a human, would at the very least, go slightly insane after being alone for such a long time. Solitude is mentioned at some point in the film, but never becomes a real issue or is deal with. Granted, Watney devises a way to have contact with NASA early on in his journey, but the fact remains that he’s still completely alone on another planet.
But in a way, all those disregards are the things that make the film such a great success. By focusing on spirit and going for the heart instead of the mind, The Martian ends up being universally accessible and an extremely engaging and emotional experience that is easy to recommend to anyone, not just Science Fiction fans.
The Martian (2015)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Tags: movie review, movies, scifi