Movie Review: The Martian
Easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year was The Martian. It's a book I fell in love with in early 2014 and at the end of the year named it my favorite book of the year. It was an incredible tale of a man stranded on Mars who had to use every piece of knowledge and fortitude to survive. It was easily one of the best books I've ever read and a movie adaptation seemed like it had to be the potential to be a true classic.
I was so looking forward to the movie that while scouring the Dubai Mall we stumbled upon a movie theater which just so happened was showing The Martian in english an hour later. We of course purchased tickets and got to watch one of my most anticipated movies of 2015 with Arabic subtitles. It was quite the experience.
The movie itself did not let down either. Matt Damon's portrayal of the botanist/astronaut Mark Watney was superb. It was so good in fact that I'm shocked that they didn't give Matt Damon more screen time. If you read the book you know that 90% of it is Mark alone on Mars doing everything he can to survive. Andy Weir (the author) does give us both NASA and his crew-mates perspectives but its secondary to Mark's survival.
By diversifying the movie so much, Ridley Scott took Damon's opportunity away to put in a Tom Hanks type performance (a la Cast Away). We instead get some quick wit and short scenes of distress but you never get the sense that Damon is really phased by the elements. He's alone on Mars, there should be a bit more meat on those bones. Instead we get a light hearted space movie thats both thrilling and fun the whole way through. But it could have been so much more. One of my biggest problems is that in the book he struggles and has to use some ingenious solutions to keep himself alive. There's some major struggle though. In the movie he figures stuff out like he's using an Easy Bake Oven. It just feels too easy. I think it minimizes the science to an extent that dumbs the movie down to a level they didn't need to do.
It's a great movie don't get me wrong but it had the potential to be an Academy Award winning movie. The source material was there for them to create a movie that defines a generation. That inspires the kids who wen to see it to dream big, look at the sky and push themselves to conquer it. And so don't take my frustration with the movie to be that I didn't enjoy it. I loved it. It's easily one of the best movies of the year. But it could have been great and that's where I got frustrated with it.