February 8, 2016

The Martian (2015)

Matt Damon

Gravity, this is not.

Not that I expect all movies set in space to be the same. But everything Gravity was, this is not. And vice versa. The cinematography doesn't take your breath away. Matt Damon isn't intolerable to watch for a couple hours. And most interestingly, this movie lacks the intensity and drama of Gravity. Not that it's a comedy, as the Golden Globes peculiarly categorized it, but it has a lighthearted feel about it, which is odd for the deadly serious premise.

All of these people are in the movie. With speaking lines.
I can understand why Matt Damon is earning accolades for his performance, especially considering how impressed critics and voters continually are with an actor who shows off a significantly altered body for a role (except it turns out that was CGI'ed). What I found odd was the number of supporting characters in the movie. I went in expecting Cast Away and ended up with damn near an ensemble cast. Of course NASA is a complicated organization with many tiers of decision makers, but the number of people in this movie felt superfluous. 

This is not the face of someone
I'd trust with my life.
There's his crew of 5. There is the head of his mission, the head of his department, and the head of NASA itself. Then there is the head of PR for NASA and the specific NASA employee charged with tracking his movements. And of course, the other people in NASA that get pulled into the rescue effort, all played by famous or semi-famous people. It's like you need a damn flowchart to track why each person is even there in the first place. Especially this guy, who can't be trusted to play anything but a bad guy or a bad guy pretending a good guy. Just having him in the movie added an unnecessary level of tension because I was convinced he must be secretly sabotaging the whole mission somehow. 

At the end of the day, the movie is perfectly fine. It's enjoyable to watch. I probably shouldn't have compared it to Gravity, seeing as I actively disliked that movie, but I could understand how people were blown away by the intensity and scale of Gravity. I'm not seeing it here. On one hand, I appreciate the Oscars giving a nod to something less serious and boring than usual (you could actually give this movie a second watch without falling asleep--I'm looking at you, Lincoln, Nebraska, to name a few)--on the other hand, this just doesn't seem to be anything special. Certainly not one of the best 8 films of the year. But, you know, Matt Damon grew a beard for it!

Final word: Entertaining, but not worth big adjectives like "amazing" or "memorable" or "Best Picture."

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