The Martian (2015) Movie Review: Scott’s Space Epic Brings Back the Joy of Heroic Survival Stories

Drinking Game

Do a Shot: when Watney is separated from his team.

Mix up a Jack and Coke: when the science is introduced and never lets go. May need another drink.

Shotgun a Beer: when the Pathfinder is found.

Down a 32 oz and ask for another right away: The ENDING.

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Jake Turner (A Toast) –

As I caught my breath walking out the exit of The Martian, I threw my 3D glasses into the recycle bin and walked to my car, and drove home. I didn’t say one word til I walked into my apartment. I was speechless and blown away by the excellence of Ridley Scott’s The Martian. It may sound cliché, but this is WHY WE GO TO THE MOVIES!

*deep breath* That felt good to say.

A Toast

Where do I start? First off, it is terrific to see the space genre back again in Hollywood. Starting with Gravity in 2013, Interstellar in 2014 and now, Andy Weir’s best selling novel comes to the big screen and proves again that space is still the most fascinating mystery in life. Adapting the novel was the creative Drew Goddard (TV’s Daredevil, The Cabin in the Woods) who takes Weir’s science and enhances it along with master visual storyteller Ridley Scott. Scott hits it out of the park, once again. Yes, I loved The Counselor, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and Prometheus. What can I say, he is one of the best. Scott turns his film locales of Jordan and Hungary into the planet Mars. It shocked me how tight Scott gets with his camera at times and then zooms it out to show that our hero is the only man on the entire planet. It creates a sense of suspense and sends chills up your spine simultaneously.

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An novel that everyone needs to read immediately.

As for the story, Matt Damon is NASA astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist who is part of the Ares III crew led by Commander (and closet disco fan) Melissa Lewis, who is played effortlessly by Jessica Chastain.  Also part of the team are Rick Martinez (Michael Pena), tech geek Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan, Winter Soldier), and Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie) until during a large storm when Watney is struck and disappears as well. Presumed dead, NASA Director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) works with mission director Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to figure out how to move on and ready for Ares IV. However, Watney wakes up, halfway buried in the soil of Mars, and finds out that he is the one and only person on Mars, at which he returns to the artificial habitat that his team called home. He deals with physical and emotional pain, trying to survive with whatever rations remain from the mission, and keeps a video log of everything he is dealing with. I would love to throw out spoilers by the barrel, but you need to see the film!

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BRING BACK OUR SPACE PROGRAM NOW!

Just like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, Scott knows how to get the very best of his cast and turn them into realistic characters. Damon is at his best since Good Will Hunting, taking a page from the likes of Tom Hanks (Cast Away) and Sandra Bullock (Gravity) on how to successfully lead a film in a solo role (for the majority of the film). He brings complexity to Watney with a combination of humorous wit, intelligence, and heroic independence to do whatever it takes to get off Mars. Don’t be surprised if Damon is nominated for Oscar gold. Daniels was first-rate and having an morality issue with how to handle bringing back Watney, Ejiofor as always excellent along with Command Center folk Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, and Benedict Wong (as Bruce Ng, head of Jet Propulsion Laboratory) who really holds his own with the plethora of A-listers across the board.

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Aiming at you, Oscar. I don’t miss.

The production values are first-rate; just like Christopher Nolan delivered with Interstellar, they stick to creating the spaceships, space stations, pods, etc by using man-made mini models and enhance them with flawless CGI. Harry Gregson-Williams supports it all with a booming film score peppered with nostalgic disco music from ABBA, Vicki Sue Robinson, and Donna Summer. However, this is used for humorous purpose because Watney can’t stand Commander Lewis’s taste in disco music. It’s remarkable how they mix in the suspense once Gregson-Williams’ film score is punched in to nail biting levels and then throw in lightweight humor from Watney’s shocking reaction to the actions that NASA goes through. Again, I’m not spoiling it.

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This will get you excited for Alien: Paradise Lost.

Verdict

The Martian is the 2015 definition for why we go to the movies. It has everything: well-shot action, beautiful visuals, spectacular direction by Ridley Scott, uniformly excellent performances with Matt Damon owning the screen, and an jaw-dropper of an ending that will make you think of this comparison. Marvel has Iron Man. NASA has Watney.

One of the best films of the year!

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About Jake Turner

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