Let’s just cut to the chase: Matt Damon has no trouble carrying a movie in which he’s trapped alone on the Red Planet. THE MARTIAN is a success.
Clocking in at close to two and a half hours, I worried about the time commitment when I sat down. However, the movie went by so quickly that I was ready for more. The story is simple: Mark Watney (Damon) is left behind on Mars when the rest of his crew takes off thinking he’s dead.
One of the most noteworthy things about the movie is that there isn’t a villain. It’s rare not to have a “bad guy” to root against in any genre and THE MARTIAN certainly took a chance. It was enough, though, to watch Mark toil around Mars in an effort to secure his own survival without manufacturing a villain.
There is also a surprising amount of humor in the movie, which was a very pleasant surprise. Similarly-themed movies like CAST AWAY and GRAVITY didn’t attempt the same levity that THE MARTIAN did, and with great success.
All of the acting was well done and though none of the actors stood out, it may be because they were all great in their roles. The thing that I found surprising with such an accomplished cast is that there weren’t more backstories. There wasn’t much about the characters outside of this Mars-like vacuum. Unlike Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) in GRAVITY, I didn’t feel like anyone in this movie learned about themselves or that they changed. (Many of the characters go through challenges.
Although I did not sit through the movie tense, wondering what would happen next (Mark could be a 911 Operator he’s so calm), I did find it interesting that I felt like I was watching a movie based on a true story, which it clearly is not. I’ve never had that experience before. So, I have to give extra kudos to the filmmakers for that magic trick since it’s pretty amazing to be able to convince an audience (member) a story is so compelling it feels real.
Did you like THE MARTIAN? What did you think? Let me know!
For a movie with a similar concept to THE MARTIAN, check out GRAVITY here.