October 2, 2017
Today’s retrospective is about a Martian. No, not Ray Walston from the TV show “My Favorite Martian“, or even Christopher Lloyd from the 1999 “My Favorite Martian” reminiscent cash-in movie. I’m talking about the scientifically detail-oriented “The Martian” from 2015, starring a plucky Matt Damon, based on the book of the same name by super-star writer Andy Weir.
A very good sign of quality: I felt like I was watching the spiritual sequel to “Apollo 13“, an excellent movie about real-life events. Did you catch that connection? This movie felt like it was based on true events. The details in “The Martian” were fastidious and felt so true-to-life.
Matt Damon’s character is very believable and human, capping off an incredibly believable and technical story. The movie starts out with an epic event: the first astronauts have landed on Mars and are collecting samples for study, after having already set up a base camp. It’s all very NASA. But watch out! A storm blows in and endangers the whole mission. Damon’s character is blown away by the storm, and the rest of the crew have to blast off in the nick of time to safety.
The movie continues with Damon’s character waking up, being impaled by some debris from the basecamp. He stumbles back into the basecamp and fixes himself up as best he can, after having pulled the debris from his body. Ouch. The story continues as “The Martian” works to cultivate his surroundings and create a livable environment, while collecting materials to contact home base on Earth. He reaches out with the abandoned car and salvages old probes for spare parts.
Finally, he contacts Earth and coordinates a rescue attempt through the rest of the movie. It’s very enthralling and fascinating.
Ridley Scott, the director, really knocked this one out of the park. Possibly out of the solar system. The beautiful and talented Jessica Chastain costars. Kristen Wiig also costars in a pleasantly subdued role that I really appreciated. As a matter of fact, there are a great number of good actors in this movie, and they all contribute, making this a rather nice ensemble cast.
The movie takes place about “20 minutes into the future”, so it’s very relate-able and the plot carefully navigates its science fiction plot to make it feel very believable, as if it were more biography than fiction. Incredible. Two landing thrusters way up.