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Review: ‘The Martian’ depicts a stellar, scientific story

Earlier this week, NASA found water on Mars. But 20th Century Fox will likely strike gold this weekend with their movie about the Red Planet, “The Martian.”

“The Martian” is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  The movie is based off the book by Andy Weir with the same name, and is about astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) being left on Mars after being presumed dead due to a brutal sandstorm.  From there, he must use his intelligence and scientific ability to stay alive long enough to signal Earth.

This is a movie I have been excited about for a long time, due to its well-made trailers and the praise I’ve heard about the book.  Without reading the book and having little knowledge about the source material, I thought that the movie itself was very well-made.

Matt Damon is superb as Watney in this film, giving the character the correct balance of humor and heart.  His comedic timing is excellent, but it is also easy to see how intelligent the character is.  Damon truly transforms into this character, both physically and mentally. This is a performance that shows the A-list actor at his very best.

The supporting cast is also great, with the other members of Watney’s crew showing a solid balance of intelligence and humor, something that worked very well for the film as a whole.  The people on Earth running the whole thing were also good, as Jeff Daniels plays a role a bit out of his comfort zone. But, in my opinion, he pulls it off.

The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, with the Red Planet always looking and feeling like a vast landscape. The size and scope were handled very well.

What I really loved about this movie, besides Damon’s incredibly witty performance, was just how scientific it was.  It is rare to find a male lead not be a tough guy who uses brute force to get out of a tough situation.  Mark Watney is a botanist, and he uses his intelligence to get out of conflicts. This movie showcases that aspect beautifully.

Usually I don’t even bring this up, but since I have a source (aka my father) that is a mega-fan of the book, I know that this movie stays incredibly faithful to many of the key components that are in the book, which is a great thing to see.  So, for any fans of the Andy Weir novel, the film treats its source material with respect.

There were some moments of solid emotion, but not enough to truly impact me.  I never shed a tear, even though I felt I could have if the movie handled situations a little better.  Some moments of comedy felt a bit forced. But for the most part, the comedy was a positive more than a negative.  The film also didn’t stay on Mars enough for me, as I wish it spent less time with NASA on Earth since Watney was such an interesting character to watch.

Overall, I am thoroughly pleased with “The Martian.”  Matt Damon gives a remarkable performance, the story is excellent, the comedy is effective, and the movie is a solid adaptation from the best-selling novel.  While it may not have hit me as hard as I wanted it to, “The Martian” is vastly entertaining with an incredibly likeable protagonist, and a vastly interesting look at science.


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