For Reel

The Martian (2015)
October 15, 2015, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ridley Scott
3.5 Stars
The MartianRidley Scott’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s The Martian has the wonderful good fortune of serving as the editor that Weir’s book definitely needed. Reworking Weir’s survival story for the big screen, screenwriter Drew Goddard eliminates the sophomoric humor, the excessive scientific jargon, and removes a handful of set pieces to tighten the focus on those that remain. Similarly, cinema has the great benefit of not being limited by inelegant prose, and from a production design standpoint The Martian excels in both capturing the vast empty space of the red planet and the sheen of NASA’s technical brilliance aboard the spacecrafts. Matt Damon is well-cast as the wise-cracking Mark Watney, whose inability to resist a one-liner becomes increasingly alienating. While part of the success of the film is that it doesn’t dwell in the same miseries as other survival tales, it actually suffers by not quite capturing the existential fear and dread of being stranded. The fact that Watney is being watched lends some narrative credence to the way that he “performs” the role of an unfailing hero, but the film doesn’t follow that plot thread through enough. Despite the faults, The Martian nonetheless works as a suspense machine, well-edited and performed beautifully by the embarrassment of riches that is the cast.

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