Friday, February 26, 2016

The Martian

The Martian; science-fiction / comedy, USA, 2015; D: Ridley Scott, S: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean

In the 2030s, humans set first step on Mars. However, a storm hits and the crew is forced to abandon one astronaut, Mark, whom they presume died, and head with their vessel Hermes back to Earth. However, Mark survived and returns to their base. Now alone, he uses the food rations wisely and creates a greenhouse to plant potatoes. NASA headquarters finally pick up satellite images that there is movement on the base, and conclude Mark is still alive. NASA chief Ted rushes an expedition back to Mars to save Mark, but one scientist concludes that it is much more practical to swing Hermes back to Mars. After a year and a half, the Hermes crew manages to pick up Mark and return him safely back to Earth.

After every previous Sci-Fi film about humans on Mars was treated seriously - from "Armitage III" up to "Mission to Mars" - "The Martian" came as a surprise since it finally decided to treat the stale topic with a fresh and healthy dose of humor and vitality. Based on Andy Weir's inspired (self-published) eponymous novel about 'Robinson Crusoe on another planet', this film adaptation offered a science-fiction story with a human face, since all the characters are easy to identify with, and thus it is much more engaging for the viewers to cheer as "all eyes are on Mars" trying to bring back the main hero, Mark, back to Earth alive. The first 10-15 minutes are a standard, ordinary Mars film with little hints that anything new might happen, but as soon as Mark returns to the base and displays a sense of humor while recording a video log, the story lifts up and just grows exponentially thanks to only small details (when he uses the feces from the toilet as a fertilizer for the potatoes, he opens one bag and says grudgingly: "Johanssen, Jesus...!"; upon returning from a shower, with disco music playing in the background, he goes: "I'm definitely going to die here... If I have to listen any more to this god-awful music."; he travels across half of planet to dig up Pathfinder in order to communicate with Earth). This gives the movie sympathy that carries the entire film, and Matt Damon is both charming and innocent enough to make the audience root for him. However, some extra, additional humor would have been welcome, since the wise-cracking humor depletes itself in the last third, which ends slightly conventional, and feels as if the film overstretched itself for way too long, even though that is a tolerable flaw.


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