Thoughts: Awesome…..by 140 million miles!

To begin with, has it ever occurred to you how much money the US government spends to “make” Matt Damon and then how much MORE money they spend on getting him back after he screws up?

Starting back from Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks goes through hell and high fire to get him back and ends up dead, followed by the Bourne series where the government again devotes an obscene amount to train him and then three movies and billions of dollars’ worth of blow ups and car chases are spent further trying to get him back. Next, in the Adjustment Bureau, he is trained to be President and then AGAIN runs away and finally in Interstellar where (surprise surprise) the American government spends a butt load of money on him becoming an awesome super stud astronaut and screws up so badly, he nearly kills the crew sent there to rescue him and (yet) again damages billions of dollars’ worth of equipment. I guess Matt Damon has found his niche!

Jokes aside, there is one clear fact from this 2 hour long epic….Hollywood can definitely make big budget films and thus Bahubali can eat chicken feces!

In the movie, NASA has decided to send a few scientists to study Mars and see how worthwhile the planet is for habitation. During one of these manned missions, the crew faces a sudden storm and they need to rush out of the planet. Whilst evacuating, Mark Watney (Mark Wahlberg) is lost, presumed dead and thus left behind by his crew. Unbeknownst to the crew, Watney has survived (The government groans!!) and he finds himself stranded and alone on a planet with bare minimum supplies. Keeping in mind that “Help is only 140 million miles away”, Watney steps up his game and shows survival skills that would shame Bear Grylls. NASA of course need to earn their moolah and work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home. Will he make or will he die, lonely and a million miles away from home? (No spoilers here!)

Ridley Scott is a science fiction God and with movies like Blade Runner, Alien and Prometheus he knows his stuff in zero gravity. Mr. Scott has pulled out another master class and it would be very surprising if he doesn’t get an Oscar nod for this one. (Ironically he never got an Oscar nod for any of his sci-fi flicks till date!) The movie keeps you on the very edge of your seat right from lift off and there is no reason for you to ever get comfortable.  The strength of this movie is that it feels less like science fiction and more of a biopic and that isn’t easy when you are convincing people your lead lives on a different planet. The Martian is based on a book by Andy Wier (some GK for you!) and R. Scott has somehow managed to keep the verbiage same as the book (which I gather is pretty heavy from a layman’s perspective) and still ensured that the users don’t lose the plot.

 

The movie is supported by some stunning cinematography and fantastic visual effects. The scenes on Mars and in space are impeccably shot (wouldn’t expect anything less from Ridley Scott) and this is one of the best features of the movie.

Matt Damon does a good job as Mr. Cast Away with a PhD in Botany and Potatoes as his Wilson. He ‘sciences the shit’ out of everything and quips a bit of humor to keep the audiences engaged. A bit disappointed to learn that he used a body double and that puts a negative tick against him for me. (Where is the effort man!!?) The supporting cast was phenomenal as can be expected since the actors were class. Jessica Chastain as the tough talking Commander of the mission, Jeff Daniels as the Dammed-if-I-do-dammed-if-I-don’t role of the NASA director. Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover & Kate Mara are all brilliant and do very well in their roles keeping in mind that this is literally a one man show.

If there were a few drawbacks I would have to cavil on, I would pick the humor. Personally I think some of humor elements were a bit drab and they could have been much improved, but it takes nothing away from the movie overall.

The strongest part about the movie remains how the main character never displays any signs of loneliness, despair or fear. He is more like “Oh, crap I missed my flight. Fine, guess it’s time to grow potatoes”. Also, thankfully they never showed his 4 year old son fighting with his 3 year old daughter and his wife who is pregnant with their 3rd kid in the white picket fenced house in suburban United States as the main reason to come back. His main motive to come back, is and remains “It’s frigging MARS!!!”

Martian displays’ s Scott’s skill as a storyteller who understands the strongest and most base of human feelings; fear, the unassailable will to survive, the nadirs of isolation and the inexplicable pull to return home. All the while keeping the milieu as space with its infinite possibilities which ignite the human imagination like no other. After all, it is the Final Frontier. 🙂

If you are a fan of ‘Interstellar’ or any other science fiction survival tale or even some of Scott’s previous science fiction work, then this is one to definitely watch. Best viewed on the big screen so don’t cheap out by downloading it! 😛

 

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