In theaters is the highly anticipated film from director Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox about a man who becomes “The Martian.”
Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is with his crew including Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Martinez (Michael Pena), Johanssen (Kate Mara) and Beck (Sebastian Stan) on Mars conducting research. All is going well, that is until a storm comes in stronger than anyone had anticipated.
In one moment the team’s lives are in danger as the storm is tilting their ship. Getting everyone on board for an emergency lift off, the wind whips up debris throwing Watney to the wind. Believing he is dead the crew has no choice but to lift off to safety.
When the storm passes, it becomes clear that Watney survived! Getting back to the base station, he quickly goes into survival mode. He begins to assess his supplies and what he can use to reach NASA.
Stunned, mission control on earth with Ted Sanders (Jeff Daniels), Annie Montrose (Kristen Wiig), Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) and Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) try to come up with a rescue plan. It is out of nowhere that Rich Purnell (Donald Glover) gives them an option that they hadn’t considered.
Now it is a race between the rescue team and Watney’s ability to stay alive!
Damon as Watney is absolutely amazing. We certainly had concerns with his recent astronaut experience with Interstellar but we shouldn’t have been. He takes this role as a man left to his own devices on the red planet and just thrills from one problem solved to the next. Damon’s ability to use comedy in the middle of some scary stuff doesn’t diminish the fear, just gives us moments of nervous laughter as a release. Yes, we are Damon fans.
Chastain as Lewis and Mara as Johanssen are strong female characters who don’t tell orders from the guys very well. Stan as Beck absolutely wants to break the rules to bring his friend home and there is a little love connection with Johanssen.
Pena as Martinez is an actor who consistently brings it to the screen. There isn’t a role he has done that we don’t like and “The Martian” once again proves he is a talent that has so much more to offer.
Daniels as Sanders gets a chance to wear his bad guy-character suit. Of course some might say he’s just doing his job as the head of NASA, but there are moments we questioned whether he wants Watney to come home!
Wiig as Montrose is disaster control and it’s interesting to watch this usual comedic actress stand there with a straight face, kind of scary really. Glover as Purnell is a whiz kid who has to convince others he knows what he’s doing.
Ejiofor as Kapoor is fine but we have to say we feel like we have seen him do this character before. It wasn’t much of a stretch. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the performance, just wasn’t wow’d by it.
Bean as Henderson is as bad ass as he wants to be. From the moment his character comes into the storyline it’s easy to see Henderson isn’t about to take any b.s. from anyone. He is combative, sarcastic, direct, snarky and has a few tricks up his sleeves and every bit of Bean’s portrayal had us cheering for him.
Other cast include: Aksel Hennie as Alex Vogel, Nick Mohammed as Tim Grimes, Mackenzie Davis as Mindy Park, Zhu Tao as Chen Shu, Eddie Ko as Guo Ming and Sebastian Stan as Chris Beck.
TUBS OF POPCORN: We give “The Martian” four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Matt Damon makes the entire film so fantastic to watch with his portrayal of Watney – or as we called him the Martian McGyver. The film comes in at 141 minutes but it doesn’t feel it because the storyline and characters just keep it flowing.
If we had one issue it would be the continual scan of Mars that seem to take up minutes of the film. It comes to a point where yelling at the screen, “Yea! We get it! He’s on Mars! Alone!” would have felt good but we refrained. Seriously, that’s such a small thing but it did stick with us.
This is a film for everybody because it does have so much to offer. To us that’s important because if you are going to sit for 141 minutes then everything better click. We would be shocked if Damon doesn’t walk away with a few awards for this performance. Want to see what an actor can really do? Put him on Mars with some potatoes and prepared to be amazed.
Ridley Scott is a director that deserves so much respect, not only does “The Martian” prove it to us but his track record says so as well. Maybe a few of these film titles will ring a bell with ALIEN(S), LEGEND, THELMA & LOUISE, G.I. JANE, GLADIATOR, AMERICAN GANGSTER, PROMETHEUS, and now “The Martian”, so mad props!
In the end — help is only 140 million miles away!