Imagine yourself stuck inside your room. You have the food that you need, the water to keep you quenched, and a bathroom to keep your stink at bay. As a luxury, you get the latest tech, incredibly good choices of tunes from the heydays of your parents, and the internet (limited only to text messages). The situation might’ve been good if only it wasn’t located a million miles away from Earth, like a little red dot in the sky called Mars.
The last thing you’ll want to see. Alone. In Mars.
The sci-fi drama/thriller genre has been on the rise in the past couple of years. People became head-over-heels with the recent rise of “science meets drama and space” films. The captivating factor might’ve been due to the actors themselves and the notion that this clustercrap can happen in real-life. Sandra Bullock’s success in Gravity (2013) was then followed-up by Nolan’s mind blowing Interstellar (2014) and it just goes that the trend continues until it vanishes or some film ultimately diminishes interest. For 2015, the sci-fi drama genre is flagshipped by Mark Wahl– Matt Damon’s The Martian.
Obviously set in Mars, Matt Damon plays botanist/astronaut/Martian McGyver, Mark Watney. Mark gets left on the desolate planet after the mission goes haywire and has to deal with the troubles of being alone and surviving until help arrives. Far from his incredibly tense position are the people at NASA. Plagued by the media and the pressure of saving a spacemen, the higher-ups are on the edge as they find the swiftest and safest solution to bring the lost astronaut back home.
Why You Should/n’t Watch It
Deus Ex Machina.
For one, I loved how the film paces itself. The predicament faced by Mark Watney is clearly the main pillar of the show. Matt Damon plays the part well as he tries to be the Castaway in the red planet, holding up a jolly façade in the face of surmounting odds. Behind the scenes, we get the bickering of the NASA team (played by decorated actors) as they face an impasse brought upon by questions about morality, scarcity of resources, and public perception of the space program. On the otherhand, another front shows itself as the crew of the Mars mission ponders on the guilt of having left a comrade. The movie wonderfully connects each, keeping the dilly dallies at a minimum to ensure your attention.
“Should we send him the most expensive lunch box in the history of mankind?”
Most of the movie is founded in the fascination of how Mark Watney came to work around dire situations. It might be cliché to sound that things are driven by his will to live, but his expertise and professional background also proved to be an advantage. I personally liked the sequences where-in he cleverly guts his way out of the worst. Science is the main language of the show and if you’ve studied well, you’ll definitely appreciate this. However, I hated the fact that the scripting foretells impending disasters as opposed to having it whip you out in surprise.
To just leave it on the table, The Martian also shoehorns China as a dependent space ally which then acts as a major plot device. An on-going practice for movies wishing to penetrate the incredibly large well of China. Can be irritating or good to some. Depends on which side you swing.
I do not deny that I am fascinated with films that try to marry fantasy and science. There’s the charm of being able to do it should the time come, making it sort of like an educational spiel. But then again, take everything from Hollywood with a pinch of salt. Movies like this one are made to entertain and they do so splendidly. Mars may be desolate but the ensemble cast, well-done storyline, and sequences, make it one of the best of 2015. If you like fiddling with math or sciences, then I do recommend this film to you.
*If you like seeing actor transformations (fat to thin, and vice versa), this film is one for the books.