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The Martian (2015)

May 26, 2016

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels
Director: Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator, Alien)

Bottom Line: In this Cast Away on Mars, Mark Watney (Damon) is left behind on the red planet after a storm separates him from his crew and they assume that he is dead. It’s a familiar trope (stranded man) in a new setting (Mars) and while it’s easy to follow how a man on an island is figuring out how to survive, the math, science, and space knowledge required to understand what Watney is doing to stay alive is quite a bit more advanced. Even so, The Martian makes for an enjoyable film with plenty of light comedic moments – despite his predicament, Watney’s sense of humor never wavers. On the other hand, the light nature of the film undermines the severity of the situation and you never really feel like this man’s life is seriously in danger.

I enjoyed Matt Damon a lot in the main role and Michael Pena (Ant Man) once again does a great job providing a funny side role, but the rest of the cast raised some question marks. Jessica Chastain probably deserves beefier roles – she has immense talent but little to do in this film. Kristen Wiig and Donald Glover (a.k.a. rapper Childish Gambino) seem miscast – Wiig plays it stiff and straight and Glover’s character seems to come from nowhere to play a pivotal role but does provide one of the film’s biggest laughs (“Who are you again?”. I like both actors, but their roles in The Martian are pretty ho hum.

Overall, The Martian is a good, but not great movie that seems to be a bit overrated, but is plenty worth watching.

Replay Value: Not strong.
Sequel Potential: I would say zero.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay – all of which seem pretty generous to me.

Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)

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