The premise of the film is pretty simple and there is no need to rehash it. Matt Damon is stuck on Mars. Of course, he has to be rescued, because he is Matt Damon. I went into this expecting… more? With people touting this as a return to form, I was expecting something creative and… well let’s be honest, I was expecting a better film than what i saw. This felt like a slog to sit through.
“I think there is maybe 2 moments in the movie where he encounters any real setback but it felt like there was never any real danger or that he wouldn’t make it and survive”
A friend said this and honestly it was one of the first problems I had with this film. There is never any doubt at all regarding the ending. Even during the few times Damon experiences trouble, how can there be tension when you know how it will all end?? It is obvious to the blindest of bats! And good God, the humour attempted throughout easily involved some of the worst ‘jokes’ I have ever had the misfortune of hearing. Even a packed cinema didn’t utter a giggle at what was obviously intended to be your typical Hollywood, inoffensive humour designed to please as many people as possible. This light-hearted nature that the film possesses is in direct contrast to what is transpiring on screen, which makes it difficult to immerse oneself into the movie. When tragedy strikes and the stranded survivor is constantly cracking wise, it is hard to feel for him and the situation he is in.
The Martian sure is photographed well, with some incredible looks across the landscapes of Mars, but this doesn’t make up for a story that features Matt Damon making video-diaries. Constantly. These scenes do everything in their power to shatter the fourth wall. And of course during these videos he is still trying to be funny, with the script offering up some corkers for Damon to say such as, “Mars will come to fear my Botany powers!” Or how about,”I’m going to have to science the shit out of this!!“
Really? Are these quotes from the book? Or did a juvenile write this script while huffing glue? Either way, both these outbursts had my face firmly in my palm.
Any prevailing themes such as the will of one man, the trust and teamwork required to pull off such a daring rescue… these motifs are all buried underneath Damon’s video diaries, his botany, and the god-awful script that he is paired with, among many other factors such as the dominance of Damon on screen and the fact he has such an easy, relaxed demenour despite being stranded on another planet.
We don’t get much time at all to meet his rescue crew properly, so this is essentially a one character movie. A character who is on a deserted planet… while barely breaking a sweat. And of course he stays sane for the entire time he is left alone, with little to no character development to speak of. You’d think being stuck on Mars would change a person. I can’t help but think that if they had more accurately portrayed how a man might cope when having to survive alone for so long, including the inevitable mental anguish that he and his crew-mates must have felt, this may have made for a much more interesting flick. Instead, this movie is decidedly one-note, with other characters serving as necessary plot pieces, while Damon’s attitude barely changes for the duration.
Now perhaps that was the point, to present a character who laughs in the face of danger and therefore isn’t affected by his situation. However this characteristic isn’t visible within Damon’s character; he simply remains the same person he was at the beginning. I appreciate the change of tone – it is certainly something different to have a character in this situation acting so nonchalant about the dangers he faces. But to me it feels like a gimmick, a much more penetrating and real film could have been made if Damon’s character wasn’t so… upbeat.
The rescue crew do a good job in the acting department, but as I said, none of their characters are firmly established on a human level. I don’t recall any personalities standing out. We know their intended function and that is about it. The same applies to the crew back on Earth. Each of their characters is almost instantaneously forgettable, except perhaps for Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character; his superior acting abilities shone through his two-dimensional character as he stole every scene he was a part of.
Overall, this is a Matt Damon movie, ’nuff said. If you like Matt Damon then congrats, you are luckier than me, as you will most probably get more out of this film than I did. This may be ‘popcorn cinema’, but I can’t enjoy a film if all realism is put on hold for the duration; especially when it involves space travel. Yes, I understand that this is only a movie, but if imagining a similar scenario were to really happen, the events of this movie seem almost silly. Who knew that duct tape could be so useful on Mars?
I hear many people saying that this is Ridley Scott and Damon’s best film for a long time… which really isn’t saying much. While this is probably true, I am already beginning to forget parts of this 141 minute long film, I found it that underwhelming. No disrespect to any other bloggers out there, I seem to be against the grain on this one. It left the opposite of a lasting impression.
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