Sunday, November 22, 2015
The book The Martian by Andy Weir is a publishing phenomenon, widely regarded as one of the best (and probably the best-selling) science fiction books of 2014. When I discovered that the movie adaptation was being directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus, Gladiator) and starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney this film jumped to the top of my want-to-see list for 2015.
The Other Half and I saw it with another gay couple at our go-to place for watching movies in the theater, Arclight Pasadena. Since we saw it opening weekend the film has gone on to become a box-office smash (and is currently the #6 top-grossing film released in 2015, with well over $200 million in receipts in North America) as well as a critical smash, with 93% positive ratings at rottentomatoes.com from both critics and audiences. Director Ridley Scott is starting to appear on Best Director Oscar consideration lists.
I read the book at the end of 2014 and enjoyed it, but was not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about it. I actually think the movie is a better (more entertaining) version of the story. The cast is incredible. Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean and Chiwetel Ejiofor play bigwigs at NASA with Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara and Michael Peña as fellow astronauts on a Mars mission with Matt Damon. Donald Glover has a key role as a quirky NASA astrophysicist.
The movie is centered around science and the importance (and dangers) that are involved with space exploration and scientific progress. I complained to my fellow moviegoers that despite the centrality of science (especially, botany, biology, physics, astronomy and mathematics) to the plot there is not a single equation displayed in the film. They pointed out that for the vast majority of people who go to see the film, including a mathematical equation would be communicating something similar to including Chinese characters in the film. In other words, the symbols would have almost no inherent meaning to the audience, and would be communicating information that the audience is not intended to understand. I see their point, but I still think the filmmakers could have done a better job of indicating the mathematical calculations that must have occurred while all the science and engineering was being done to attempt to rescue Mark Watney on Mars.
That being said, the movie is not a geek-laden paean to NASA, but is instead a very suspenseful thriller which is exciting, emotionally gripping and inspiring.
Title: The Martian.
Director: Ridley Scott.
Running Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity.
Release Date: October 2, 2015.
Viewing Date: October 4, 2015.
Overall Grade: A/A+ (4.08/4.0).