The Martian: Movie Review

Ken Wais

Morning 10/10/15

 

Iíve not seen The Martian, but will say this: I view it negatively. It can be said that taking such view is an example of cinematic prejudice. Nice passive voice, huh? Yet, I donít think so. First, Iíve watched the trailer which these days seems to practically give the whole film in brief. And just from that, Iíve have all I need to know to see this not a flick that anyone would consider a serious science fantasy look at something that is likely to happen in the next 10 years. What it seems to be is another formulaic story, made for the mindless herd of movie goers. Much the same as that bomb Gravity was.

Formulaic? What do you call Matt Damon, the indefatigable hero that is determined to beat the odds of dying on a planet, where he is alone and destined to starve to death in 50 days? Remember Sandra Bullock in Gravity, and compare.Not just that he has to perform superhuman feats to stay alive, but there is that supporting cast of mavericks like him; actors and actresses, plus the token black guy, whom will defy NASA to rescue their space brother. Iím already feeling nauseous. And of course, to get any astounding Spec Effs in the film production team has to violate the real facts of Marís environment, not to mention space travel itself.

As I said havenít seen yet, but Iíll bet Matt makes it back to Earth. I know, thanks to the trailer, a group of intrepid astronauts set out to save Damon. They defy NASAís decision to not rescue our superhero, while he defies the inhospitable Martian landscape. Of course, NASA serves as the antagonist in the film. Thatís convenient, now you donít even need an evil counter to tough guy Damon. Again, Iím guessing here.

Does anyone need much imagine to guess what happens in this trash? Damon drops one liners like Iím the greatest botanist on this planet. This is meant to be a pun, I guess?

Well, here I go, off to see itÖ.will finish this afterwards.

 

10/10/15 evening approx. 7 pm

 

And now Iíve seen it and my opinion has worsen! This flick is part American propaganda and bombast, plus feel good Disney-like entertainment with a good helping of diversity thrown in, and top it all off with showcasing Matt Damon as the Master Solver of impossible predicaments. Thatís the short description of this tripe. Gotta give it to them, they have the diversity field covered. Not one but two black token actors, and a Chicano actor thatís fast becoming a staple representative for the Hispanic audience, so the producers and director of this junk are leaving no demographic audience out! I saw that hispanic actor playing a stereotypical Chicano in Ant-Man, now he pops up here. Donít worry Asian audience thereís a Chinese engineer with links to China and the Chinese nation is portrayed in the most glowing terms. Women? Hey, the mission commander is a woman, and sheís as heroic as Matt is ingenuous. The formula requires that everybodyís a hero in these flicks. So, Damonís trying to sacrifice himself near the end, and the mission commander is putting herself at risk to go get Matt, while some jerk on the crew is ready to let himself be blown to bits to Ö.I wonít even explain it. Therein is the giant flaw in this film, as it proceeds the plot becomes a series of trumping ever growing impossible odds with even more incredible schemes. It appears the writers just couldnít stop themselves from making the events so incredulous it became an obsession.There is the blow up of the supply ship NASA attempts launching to stranded astronaut, Mark Wadley (Damon). I guess this is supposed to remind us of the real world tragic launching disasters, to what end, I donít know? It certainly only complicated an already imploding story line. Wadley, the survivalist, destroys his food supply, making his situation dire. Does anybody really think this builds suspense? We know Matsy is gonna be rescued, why create these extenuating circumstances? But, the grand finale is so over the top, I believe the screenwriters mustíve meant to insult their audienceís intelligence. It is so far from believable, the dialog script actually calls for Damon to be offended by it. And yes you too moviegoers should be. This denouement is too absurd to describe.It would have been better if the Good Witch of the East had put some ruby slippers on him hadíem clickíem together to get back home.

 

Iíll try to find something appealing about this film at least stylistically.It isnít easy to do that so comments must be of a moral nature for that to happen. The makers are trying to show us how a man and his ingenuity can overcome perilous odds.Damon uses the device of recording his predicament into a video recorder on the habitat module to talk to the movie audience, and thatís a nice style element. Most scenes of the movie follow Damon as he goes from one extraordinary feat of self-preservation to another. Weíre supposed to see the human will to survive in adversity.There is an attempt at realism with Damon explaining scientific principles as he produces all manner of miraculous contrivances.This is the makersí attempt to give a dumbed down science lesson? Somebody during screenwriting had the wonderful idea that the Pathfinder probe sent back in 1997 to Mars, should be somehow brought in.Why not, theyíve put every possible unheard of situation in this flick.Now, Wadley in his quest to communicate with NASA sets off to find the Pathfinder some many meters away, finds it, fixes it, and uses it to establish a video link-up with NASA.That alone is enough to walk out, but wait thereís more he canít communicate real-time because this probe has a pre-21st century operating system and of course its software is not compatible with 21st century operating system and its imaging software canít work with present day software.So, thatís okay he figures out a series of rebus symbols to let NASA know what he wants.NASA digs up some old computer equipment, and finds a way to convertÖ.oh please let me stop explaining this bullshit.Morally, we should see how humans (especially American humans) working together can produce eye-popping results. What makes this so irritating is the screenwriters, director and producers didnít have to make this story so convoluted and contrived.They had all the elements of suspense and plot development if heíd just stayed at the habitat and the cavalry mother ship came back there.Get this, most of the actors have a spark of brilliance. Theyíre talking about how to crack this nasty little problem of how to get Mark Wadley back on terra firma, then--WHAM a burst of epiphany hits them.Just about everybody gets this light bulb moment, the director of the Mars mission, the Hermes mission commander, the college kid egg-head that figures out a way to use gravity-assist to send the Hermes mother ship back to Mars, Damon gets it about 3 light bulb moments, everybody does it and I mean everybody. Why didnít they let the janitor come up with a way to clean up all that trash Damon made rigging up his water machine?

 

Sorry, moviegoers there is nothing complimentary to be said about this film.Except, my next prediction, yes, yes, itíll get the Academy Award nomination and very likely an award.

 

If an intelligent viewer were not already reeling from this film, they made it worst for the philosophically inclined.Matt has these soliloquies with the audience, where he remarks on the unique nature of his every experience on Mars.Heís the first to do this, the only one to experience that, and nobody has ever seen this before.For an existentialist like me, this got my blood boiling.I wanted to jump in the screen, grab Damon by his spacesuit, and scream: these are meaningless observations you fool, just as it would be meaningless if Mars was the only planet teeming with human colonies and had more people migrating to it than any other inner solar planet!

 

And lastly to wrap this excoriation up, since this is a feel-good flick tailor made for an American audience, dripping with American nationalism, the whole world is watching Matsy in his ordeal.There are even those brief shots of global capitals weíve seen in every cheap flick going back to cornball sci-fi movies of the 50s. Everybodyís pulling for him.When heís rescued, worldwide joy doth spread over the globe and angels sing in celestial harmony.Shouldnít there be a way to have makers of this type of poor filmmaking publically whipped?