It’s been a while since the theaters have shown something that didn’t involve superheroes, Sherlock Holmes or reanimated dinosaurs. “The Martian” qualifies as science fiction because it takes place in a world where we can put a team of people on Mars, but it tends to be realistic (or realistic enough that Neil deGrasse Tyson said on “CBS This Morning” that it’s pretty accurate). Going into the movie, I didn’t really have any expectations, and because of that I was blown away with how good it was.
In the film, the astronauts are on Mars on a scientific mission. It is never really explained fully why they are on Mars, although we do see some of the characters collecting soil samples. There really is not any time wasted on the details of why they are there, because within 15 minutes of the movie starting, the astronauts are forced to abandon their mission due to a storm. After they start preparing to leave, the movie wastes no time in stranding Mark Watney, played impeccably by Matt Damon, on Mars by himself.
Not only is the writing of Damon’s character enjoyable, but how Damon plays him as a snarky character who seems to keep his sanity by quipping to a computer monitor. Damon manages to keep the interest of the audience even when he is alone on the planet for a majority of the run time of the film.
When we are not with Watney on Mars, we get to spend time with the people who are trying to get him home. The cast of the movie as a whole is amazing and packed with familiar faces. Watney’s crew alone has three people who have been in recent superhero movies (Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña and Kate Mara), and the team at NASA has Donald Glover, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean. Each member of this all-star cast is giving their best performance, and no one feels out of place. But it is indisputable that Damon gives the stand-out performance.
The special effects used in the film are top notch. All of the shots of the landscape of Mars look very real and are extremely beautiful. Everything in the film looks very familiar, and even realistic when you consider the technology that we have now. This helped the movie feel much more dramatic—because we, as a viewing public, know all too well that everything can go wrong with space travel. With this in mind, the filmmakers play on our emotions.
“The Martian” was a very intense movie. Even when Damon’s character is snarking in a video diary, there is always the feeling that something could go wrong at any moment. That feeling just keeps growing throughout the movie. As a whole, the tense vibe aids the movie in creating a literal edge-of-your-seat thriller.
To be completely honest, it was difficult to find anything wrong with “The Martian.” The pacing was perfect, the acting was top notch and the music was perfect in capturing the mood. The jokes in the film work because they tend to be on the dark humor side of the comedy spectrum, and this does not take anything away from the movie.
The only complaint most viewers will have is a minor one: the run time. While the movie does not drag during its two and a half hour run time, it’s still very long. However, if the that is the only issue, then maybe there isn’t really anything to complain about at all.