REVIEW: The Martian

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Review by Dustin Heller

The Martian is the new science fiction film starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott.  The film is based on the novel The Martian by Andy Weir and was written for the screen by Drew Goddard.  Ridley Scott is responsible for some of the most important films over the last 30-plus years with such titles as Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down just to name a few.  Along with Damon, the film boasts an impressive cast with Jessica ChastainKristen WiigJeff DanielsMichael PeñaKate MaraSean Bean ,Sebastian StanAksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in supporting roles.  The film just recently had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and is being released stateside on October 2 in both 2D and 3D formats.

The Ares III mission to Mars is cut short by an impending storm that forces the crew to make a rushed exit from the planet.  In the chaos, botanist Mark Watney (Damon) is struck by a piece of equipment and pronounced dead by the other members of the crew.  Once the crew has already left and started its ten-month descent back to Earth, Mark wakes up to find that he’s all alone on Mars with no way to contact anyone on Earth.  Mark does everything in his power to survive and uses his vast knowledge to piece together a plan in an attempt to get back home.  All the while, everyone back home is mourning the death of their beloved astronaut.  Little do they know that he is in fact still alive and doing everything in his power to make contact with the outside world.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying” is a famous quote from the movie The Shawshank Redemption, but could really be used as the tagline for The Martian.  The way movie plays almost feels like it was based upon a true story.  The events unfold in a way that is so well-crafted that you don’t really question their validity.  Obviously, no human has ever set foot on Mars, but you wouldn’t believe that’s the case after watching this movie.

I’m not the biggest fan of some of Ridley Scott’s most recent work, but he’s right in his element with this sci-fi gem, creating a truly magical movie experience in the groundbreaking vein of Gravity.  Aside from the amazing spectacle of the film itself, it is actually quite funny and tells a very good story.  Matt Damon’s performance is exceptional; he single-handedly carries this movie even though he gets great support from the other actors.

If I had one complaint it would be the length of the film as it runs about two hours and twenty minutes.  Some of the minutia of the day to day living on Mars seemed a little redundant and could have been shaved down to cut out about 20 minutes or so.  That said, I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

Now that we’re past the summer blockbuster season and into the smaller films of the fall, The Martian breaks the mold and should be seen on the big screen.  Some people go to the movies as a break from their everyday reality; The Martian will transport you to an entirely different world altogether.

Grade:  A-

The Martian opens in theaters on Friday, October 2

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