I know I haven’t been very active lately, I just haven’t had the time to review a lot of stuff. But, finally I’ve made me glorious comeback to film writing. So, what am I going to review? Well I just saw Luis Bunuel’s classic 1961 film Viridiana. And I also saw James Marsh’s Man on Wire, oh and also Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu. But I know most of you don’t care about those films, so I also saw Ridley Scott’s The Martian. So, I guess I should review that one, since it is a new, big budget film.
I was hyped for this, I didn’t read the novel, but I like Scott’s work and the trailer looked really good, like absolutely fucking good. I was so hyped, I actually went to the the theaters to watch this, and I rarely go to the theaters (no time, no money, you know). And to my surprise, it was okay. I want to stress that I haven’t read the novel, so I have no idea how the film differs from it, I’m judging this as a film, not an adaptation. So, let’s start the review:
This film has a lot of characters and a lot of famous actors: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Donald Glover, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels and the list goes on. But really there’s only one main character and that is of course Matt Damon as Mark Watney. His character is a smart, wise-cracking, joe-schmoe-with-a-degree-in-botany and Damon does a decent job. He’s very likeable with his sarcastic remarks and his tough human spirit thing, but I didn’t really think he’s all that special. Sure, he’s a lot of fun, he’s the everyman (kinda) so it’s easy to relate to him, but as somebody who prefers complexity over everyman-status (in most cases), I can’t say that I found the character to be anything more than a popcorn film star. I mean, Damon is very natural in it and he has a lot of charisma so nothing feels awkward at all and Watney is a very sympathetic character, it’s very easy to root for him and his comments are often chuckle-worthy.
I’m not saying he’s a bad character at all, but we rarely see him anything more than a sarcastic smart-guy. There’s like two scenes, where he’s desperate and thinking he’s going to die, now, you could argue he doesn’t indulge into fears like that because he’s a trained astronaut, but that’s a bit stretching to say, considering NASA probably doesn’t train astronauts to survive alone in a planet. So, I would have hoped to see a bit more desperation, a bit more of him losing his sanity. Most of the problems are solved fairly easily and not a lot of problems even come. I was expecting something awful to happen constantly like in Gravity, but really only one (albeit majot) bad thing happens, which again, is solved pretty quickly. There is a wonderful scene where we do see Watney scared, which is the little moment when he is looking at the MAV (I would give more detail, but I don’t want to spoil it). That was a quite stunning, subtle scene. But, basically right after he goes back to the headquarters, after almost dying and his crew leaving him, almost right after he’s like “I’m not going to die”. Which was strange, I mean, you’ve been there like two hours, you should be thinking “I am going to die here”. But, anyway, Watney’s likeable enough, nothing special, but whatever.
Like I said, this is filled with recognizable faces and most of them are pretty good. Daniels as the douchebag authority is fine I guess, though his character is a bit cheap, he brings some charisma. Donald Glover as the quirky scientist is decent, I liked Glover in Community where he was pretty damn hilarious, but here he’s the standard quirky nerd type which doesn’t really fit him, so at times his delivery is awkward, but overall he was very decent. Kristen Wiig was surprisingly forgetable in this, which is strange, ’cause she’s a very good actress. I don’t even remember what her character was doing in the film. Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena and the rest of the crew of Hermes are all just cardboard cut-outs, they have no personality other than Pena who is the “bro” for Watney. But the rest are just so basic and boring, I found them the dullest part of the film. Sean Bean was fine, I guess, he looks like he’s about the cry in every scene he’s in, but fine I suppose. Chiwetel Ejiofor (totally had to look how to spell that one from IMDB) is good. He’s very natural in his performance, though his character is average and borderline boring, Ejiofor brings charisma to it.
Basically the only stand out performance was the lead, sadly. Though it’s an impressive cast, I can’t say many of them were very unforgetable. Glover sticks out in my opinion, but probably just because I’m a fan of Community. While nobody was terrible, nobody was really spectacular either, which was a disappointment to me, since I was hoping a lot more from this cast.
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