The Martian ~ A Capsule Movie Review

The Martian

The Martian ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

Liberal gasbag Matt Damon is my least favorite actor in the universe. He plays fictional astronaut Mark Watney in director Ridley Scott’s fictional sci-fi fantasy, The Martian. I stress the word “fictional” because I heard that a lot of people believe it’s a true story. Just when did they think we put people on Mars? Don’t they think they would have heard about such an important event?

Anyway, Matt Damon is one of six American astronauts (three boys and three girls and, no, they’re not there to reproduce) living in what they call the “hab” on Mars, earth’s nearest planetary neighbor in the cosmos, but still fifty million miles away. When all six astronauts are outside the “hab,” a sudden violent storm blows up and a large piece of debris hits Mark Watney in the abdomen and sends him flying (very little gravity on Mars). It’s time for the astronauts to get the hell out and go back to earth, so the five remaining astronauts head on out, certain that Mark Watney is dead. The thing is, though, he’s not dead—only knocked unconscious. When he regains consciousness a day or so later, he discovers he’s stranded there on Mars alone with very little food, water and air, and the next scheduled manned flight back to the Angry Red Planet from earth is not for four years. Mark Watney will either die within a few days or weeks or figure out a way to go on living until the time he can meet up with some other earthlings to take him back home.

Remember the movie Gravity from a couple years ago? The Martian is a lot like that, only much longer, with more characters, and has a man instead of a woman in an I’m-probably-going-to-die-unless-I-can-figure-out-a-way-to-save-myself situation in space. Yes, there are overwhelming odds to overcome and, yes, he does overcome them, and, yes, we knew all along he could do it. Besides Gravity, there are elements of other movies in The Martian, including Robinson Crusoe on Mars from the 1960s, the “mission control” nonsense of Apollo 13 (cheering people doing the Rocky victory arm pump), and Airport, a 1970 movie with Burt Lancaster. I was especially reminded of Airport by the cardboard cutout characters at NASA. What is Kristen Wiig doing here?

I see on IMDb that The Martian was filmed in the Jordanian desert, which is, presumably, an appropriate stand-in for the Martian terrain. We see some beautifully photographed (simulated) Martian landscapes, and I like the idea of being the only man on an entire planet. What solitude! I also like the idea of being able to float weightlessly wherever you want to go, as we see in the scenes of space travel. Think how much easier that would be than walking.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp