Cary, NC — The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien) and starring Matt Damon, tells the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut thought dead and left behind by his fellow crew members after a disastrous storm on Mars. Filled with humor, optimism and a great performance by leading man Damon, The Martian is a crowd-pleaser of the highest order.
There have been a lot of comparisons between The Martian and 2013’s critically acclaimed hit Gravity. Of course, they are both about space missions gone wrong and are anchored by solo movie star performances – but, for me, that’s really where the comparisons end. Gravity was more of a roller coaster ride, an exhilarating 90 minute film that didn’t let up once it got going.
The Martian, however, plays more like a procedural. Once Damon is discovered to be alive by NASA, the rest of the film follows mission control, Watney, and the crew that left him behind as they all try and figure how to keep Watney alive and, eventually, rescue him. It’s an absolutely fascinating journey, albeit a much different one from Gravity.
Damon as Good as Ever
I feel like we forget how good an actor Matt Damon can be. I’ve always enjoyed him, and, even if I didn’t love the movies he was in, he was always highly watchable. A performance like the one he gives in The Martian is a reminder that he’s one of our most reliable and likable movie stars.
His character, Watney, is a scientist first and astronaut second, so his ingenuity and practicality quickly come into play, overtaking any fear or depression for being left for dead. More shockingly, though, is that his character maintains a wonderful sense of humor throughout.
In fact, the whole movie is quite funny, but Damon in particular gets the biggest laughs, as much of his screentime is just him talking into a camera as he records his progress. It’s a great performance that should get plenty of recognition come awards time.
Great Supporting Cast
Damon gets great assistance from his supporting cast as well.
Let’s see, we’ve got Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help), Michael Pena (End of Watch, Ant-Man), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings) and many, many more. Everyone is just as good as Damon, making an impact no matter how big or small the role might be.
Filled with Optimism
One of my favorite aspects of The Martian, though, has to be its optimism.
In the film, space travel is important, but even more important are the tremendously smart people that make it happen. Boiled down to its core, the film is about watching smart people do smart things, overcome obstacles and demonstrate the power of human ingenuity. Even with all the math and science talk, it never feels like the film is talking down to you. It’s fascinating and inspiring to watch people come together for a cause, and The Martian has that feeling in spades.
Smart, Funny & Not To Be Missed
Overall, The Martian is a great theatrical experience – funny, moving and highly entertaining. Don’t miss out, and see The Martian on the big screen.