The Martian takes Matt Damon to lofty places

(From IMDb.com)

(From IMDb.com)

Left behind on Mars as dead, astronaut Mark Watney isn’t.

And so, faced with scant food rations, among his many woes, the American astronaut goes botanist bonzai, using his wits and intelligence to come up with a way to grow a crop in, well, his own crap.

That leads him to the second-best line of the movie, as Watney boasts that he’s the best botanist on the planet. Indeed. But the finest line that comes out of Mark Damon’s mouth in this sci-fi adventure written for the screen from the novel by Andy Weir is this: I’ll just science the s**t out of it. Put in the hands of director Ridley Scott, all of this — faraway planet, man on a solitary mission, mountain of dilemmas if not insurmountable surely inconceivable — makes for one gripping tale. All 2 hours, 22 minutes of it had the Saturday matinée crowd at the Regal Cinemas’ big theater in Syracuse mall Shoppingtown at constant high alert.

Of, if only the real space program were to gain such attention and affection these days. Oh, wait. NASA wouldn’t want this type of tension and possible calamity for a manned program to Mars, now would it?

Damon surely makes the most of his role’s moments on Mars. Many days — or sols, as they’re called up there — roll by as the astronaut works the gadgets and figures the percentages and refuses to give up.

On earth, NASA officials scramble and hopes and fight amongst themselves to come up with the right steps. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels clash and reconcile and conjur as Vincent Kapoor and his boss Teddy Sanders, the highest rankers who play the game and take the blame as the spokeswoman played very seriously be Kristen Wiig tries to make all of this palatable to the public. In space, the fellow astronauts on his mission get over their guilt and surprise at the delayed news that he’s alive. Jessica Chastain as Commander Melissa Lewis is always intense and on top of her diverse and smart crew. Wiig looks slightly uncomfortable without any comic touches in her wheelhouse, and Daniels’ makes his NASA chief come off very much like his achor role in HBO’s now-gone The Newsroom, without any of the endearing quirks.

Small complaints, those, because Damon pulls them all together as his Mark Watney grows food, a beard and ways to get from there to here that any space program anywhere would love.

Do you pay attention to our world’s real space explorations these days? Do you want to put people on Mars? What’s your favorite space movie, and why?

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32 thoughts on “The Martian takes Matt Damon to lofty places

  1. I shall see this out-of-this-world movie, Mark, thanks to your recommendation. I love science fiction books and movies, so it’s tough for me to pick my favorite space film. So many great ones — 2001, Star Wars, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians …. oooops! That last one sucks, actually, but I couldn’t avoid making the association. Great review!

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  2. Andy Weir is my hero right now, the poster child for self-publishing. Wow, did you read how he got it done?

    I saw an Apollo flight on t.v. at school when I was just a little thing. I don’t really follow it right now but I like looking at the photographs on http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html . I also like to wish on stars. Does that count?

    Favourite space movies- in this house that means Star Trek which I never saw until I met my husband. It’s a you can’t beat em join em kind of thing, but I like some of it. I think 2001 was really long but a very beautiful film. Gravity gave me motion sickness. Contact was interesting, on hubby’s short favourite list after Star Trek First Contact.

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  3. I’m sure I’ll see this when it hits cable, Mark. I really love Mission to Mars 🙂 I like space movies. I don’t care if people go to Mars, but I’m not signing up!

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  4. I rarely go to the movies but I think I’d like to see this on the big screen… I am a big sci-fi fan but so many films in that genre fall flat… but after reading your review this one might be the ticket!

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  5. i’ve been following the space program, but not like in the old days when there were frequent launches and lots of drama. my fav is still ‘2001 space oddessy’ , but i’m not a huge fan of space movies in general.

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  6. I do want to see this MBM. I haven’t paid much attention in the last few years to the space program. And as far as manning Mars goes, maybe we ought to pay attention to saving our earth before we screw up another planet. 😉

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  7. Def want to see this one, too! Many at NASA have dreamed of the “Mars reality” for many years, as many were working towards this goal 2 decades ago — then they decided to build the ISS & much of the Mars work stopped, though human exploration analog missions have been ongoing.Really going to Mars is going to take lots of money & public Interest . . .

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    • The problem is time and money, Sadie. So long to get there as well as so much. The movie drives home that first point and dances with the second as well. I hope you enjoy it. You make a great point yourself, my friend. The public must create the stir for this to become a reality.

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