The Martian is a good time at the movies. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets left behind on Mars after an accident. He has to survive until everyone else can figure out a way to rescue him and bring him home. Of course we want to bring him home. He’s Matt Damon. Funny and thrilling with enough hastily sketched characters and side plots to keep things interesting, The Martian is the kind of movie people are looking for who say they watch movies “to be entertained.” Avoid the 3D though. It makes the characters look like cartoons most of the time.
The cartoon-like feel isn’t entirely inappropriate though. This is a light movie. It’s even scored with disco music, the lightest music pop has ever produced. The Avengers franchise has more moral underpinnings and sociological implications. The Martian is also shot like it’s the most important movie in the world though, and that’s one of its greatest aspects. Ridley Scott has long been a director who excels at creating and framing detail-rich worlds, often at the expense of story. The Martian has a great plot that’s simple enough to allow Scott to focus on the details without distracting from the story. This is my second-favorite Ridley Scott movie next to Alien, which is also a simple story with stellar visuals that’s just lots ton of fun.
The Martian also includes a great cast who are all obviously having a great time playing their simple, straight-forward characters. Jessica Chastain, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Rooney Mara, and Michael Pena make up the most likable and photogenic astronaut crew cinema has ever seen. If Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover, and Benedict Wong can’t get Mark Watney and the other astronauts home, no one can. If these people were all part of our current space program, I have no doubt NASA would have all the funding it needs. They’re all just so darn entertaining.
Movies like The Martian are the most difficult movies for me to review for Reel Spirituality. We try to look beyond the “flash” of any particular movie and interact with the deeper questions underneath. Sometimes a movie is just fun. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I don’t want to force weightier issues on The Martian. I don’t want you, dear reader, to think that means I’m negatively critical of the film. I loved this movie. It’s tons of fun. There’s peril. There’s a little bit of (very funny) profanity. Go see The Martian. Have a great time. Instead of popcorn, maybe buy french fries from the theater concession stand. Make sure you get extra ketchup. Trust me. Eventually, you’ll understand why.
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