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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Martian | Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Aksel Hennie, Sebastian Stan | Review

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5sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT Judy Thorburn

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5lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT

 

The Martian

I don't even want to imagine what it would be like to be alone and stranded millions of miles away in outer space. Just the thought of it makes me cringe.  Audiences shared a similar nightmare experience with Tom Hanks and his crew in the true story of Apollo 13 and with Sandra Bullock in the more recent Gravity. Back on earth, we can't forget that other Tom Hanks movie Castaway, in which he struggled to stay alive after being stranded on a secluded island. All of these films kept us on the edge of our seat, emotionally connected to the characters, and rooting for their survival.

The same can be said for the sci fi adventure/thriller, The Martian, director Ridley Scott's best film since his Academy Award winning Best Picture, Gladiator. After the the disappointing Prometheus and Exodus: Gods & Kings, the filmmaker, who decades earlier also helmed Blade Runner and Alien, is back on track and at the top of his game.

Working from a script by Drew Goddard (“World War Z” ) that was adapted from Andy Weir’s 2011 novel, Scott's latest effort follows astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), abandoned on Mars after an unexpected violent sandstorm forces his crew, led by guilt ridden Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), to evacuate their mission.  Assumed dead after he is hit by debris and catapulted far into the distance, Watney survives and is able to seek shelter where he must first remove a piece of the communications antenna that was impaled in his torso after it broke off from the ferocious winds.

Unable to communicate with NASA, Watney knows that it will be four years before the next manned mission is scheduled to arrive and so, he must try to find a way to send a signal to Earth that he is alive. In the meantime, left isolated and alone, but refusing to accept the idea that he is going to die,  the smart and resourceful botanist figures out a way to generate water and make fire while using his own excrement as fertilizer to farm potatoes, which he supplements with rations.

Meanwhile, back on earth, when Mindy Parks (MacKenzie Davis) an attentive NASA technician keeping track of satellite photography, notices some movement on Mars that must be from Mark, the agency's director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and his team of brilliant scientists at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory begin a relentless mission to bring him home.

The task is fraught with what appears to be insurmountable obstacles and set backs, both on Mars and on Earth as Mark's fellow Ares III crew members that left him behind head further and further away in outer space, unaware that he is still alive.

Matt Damon is sensational, charming, likeable, and easy to root for as the stranded astronaut that won't allow himself to fall victim to what appears to be a gloom and doom scenario. Rather, he manages to keep a keen sense of humor (much of which is sarcastic), stay focused on solving one problem at a time, and record the daily progress of his plans and strategy on video, until his dream of being rescued  becomes a reality. Thankfully, Commander Lewis left behind some disco records and TV sitcoms from the 70's, that work to keep him amused.

The Martian is top notch movie entertainment with all the right stuff.  Along with its lead star, there is a solid supporting cast that includes Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Chiwetol Ejifor, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Kristin Wiig, and Donald Glover. The story is emotionally affecting and filled with heart and humor.  It is also gripping, exciting, suspenseful, and features magnificent cinematography, visual effects and music score, all of which, come awards time, most certainly, deserve Oscar nominations.

What more can I say? Well, how about the fact that The Martian is out of this world and one of the best films of the year.

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