365 films in 2016: film 38 (The Martian 2015)

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 16.33.42.pngPeople like to say that once a director goes into space he never goes back but Ridley Scott decided to prove that wrong last year with the release of his most recent film the Martian, I didn’t really seek out this film, neither was I really excited for it, I very rarely watch trailers and try to avoid them but I normally have a tiny part of me that desperately wants to click the link to watch it, but for some reason I was not particularly interested in The Martian. Maybe it’s to do with Ridley Scott’s track record of fairly poor to average films lately or maybe I’m kind of over the near future space travel style of film. Either way I decided to watch The Martian, and well, I wasn’t particularly surprised or blown away with what I got.

The Martian is a 2 and a half hour space movie that plays out incredibly safely aka don’t expect anything special from The Martian, the film doesn’t really make any attempts to break its mould and do something fresh and unexpected which is disappointing considering Ridley gave us some of the best sci fi of the 20th century. If I had to compare The Martian to another film I’d say it’s very similar to Captain Philips, thematically, except there’s no feeling of danger or excitement, this film is set on a hostile planet with a toxic atmosphere that could kill you almost instantly yet apart from maybe 2-3 scenes I didn’t feel like Mark was in danger at all. The film just feels lazy, you don’t get any of the cinematography that made films like Blade Runner artistic noir classics, instead you get very bland predictable shot types that made Prometheus so disappointing. It’s the little things that trip this movie up the most for me, things like handheld shaky-cam shots in scenes that are meant to make Mark look alone and abandoned give the opposite effect, it’s stuff like this that should have been cleaned up in pre-production but somehow made it into the final cut instead.

But it’s not all bad, the soundtrack for this movie was great (lots of disco and a little bit of ziggy stardust era Bowie, which feels fitting for a Mars movie) and really moved a lot of the scenes along very nicely and there were some great performances in The Martian too, Chiwetel Ejiofor solidifies himself as one of my favourite actors around right now and Interstellar alumni Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain make an appearance in the starring roles. Overall I’m very split on The Martian, I think it’s a good film but it could have been a genre defining film, it could have been a dark sci-fi drama about a man trapped on a hostile planet secluded from everything, but instead we got a predictable space movie that goes out of its way to censor itself to reach a wider audience. The Martian is a 6/10.

In 2016 i will be watching 365 films (yes, i know there are 366 days this year) and writing about how I felt about them, I decided to do this just because over the last year or so i’ve Sort of pulled away from film and I wanna start to enjoy watching movies again. This will normally be just notes I made or thoughts I have about the film.


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