Monday, 12 October 2015

Film: 'The Martian' (in 2D)

It's getting alarming the frequency with which I feel at odds with majority opinion, but there's no avoiding that this is another one for that list.
Although he's made a handful of well-regarded films ('Alien' and Thelma and Louise' being among them), director Ridley Scott has never been one of my particular favourites, though must say that I do generally prefer his films to those of his late brother, Tony S.

With all 'space' or 'another planet' films I always come up against a very individual problem in that I find so many errors in depiction and execution that suspending my disbelief is distractingly tiring for an entire film's length. (For that same reason I find watching any of the 'Star Wars' films exhausting enough to detract from any enjoyment.) I do envy those members of an audience, the majority surely, who can go along accepting everything uncritically, and just enjoy the 'ride'. I dare say that if I knew a lot more than I do about, say, biology or computers, then I'd find any films with those subjects at their heart equally problematic. Just from the trailer of 'The Martian' I could see that this film would cause me difficulties.

Okay, so having got that confession off my chest, here Matt Damon is stranded alone on the 'Red Planet' after the rest of the crew have departed to return to Earth, they having assumed that Damon had been blown away, lost and died as a result of a ferocious storm (in Mars' very tenuous atmosphere? - and that's only one error! Lots more to come but I shan't enumerate them all). At first it looks as though he can't be rescued for around another four earth-years, while his provisions and oxygen supply won't last more than a few months at most. However, with some necessary ingenuity he comes up with a few wheezes to lengthen that period.
Meanwhile, on Earth first at NASA (boss Jeff Daniels), then shortly the entire world (cue; international co-operation - with one country in particular), discover that the Damon character is still alive so all the stops are pulled out to expedite an ultra-speedy rescue..
There's a good cast - including Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sean Bean (the latter in untypical low-key mode) - and the drama flows on seamlessly though also, it must be said, in pretty mundane and formulaic fashion. There were hardly any true 'surprises'.
Some of the space shots are most impressive and must be even moreso in 3D. But one expects no less these days, so I've got no complaints at all on that score.

It's a long film at a fair bit over two hours. I dare say that it was suspenseful enough to have kept some of the audience quite wrapt, though me only sporadically so. However, I've got to give it its due and, turning aside from my factual criticisms, it was pretty solid entertainment. If you're less bothered with inaccuracies than I was then it's a good recommendation, notwithstanding my own very personal rating of.......................5.


  1. I think the science-nerd within would find too many 'faults' with the science and not enjoy it for what it is.

    1. That's exactly it, Sir. It's one of those occasions when I really do wish that I knew rather LESS, and could just enjoy what is, after all, science fiction.