Not much to say about the plot you haven’t heard: an expedition to Mars gets hit by a storm which forces them to depart to orbit— leaving one of the crew behind, presumed dead. He isn’t, and now Mark Watney (Matt Damon) has to figure out how to survive alone until he is rescued. How he does it is never less than fascinating.
What makes the film work— aside from the clean direction and terrific casting— is the dialog. The screenplay is by Drew Goddard, a veteran of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Lost.” Those shows, especially “Buffy,” were known for their witty, fast-paced dialog. The dialog in The Martian isn’t fast-paced (you really need at least two people for proper dialog to happen) but Matt Damon’s naturally self-deprecating manner makes the witty asides Watney tells himself work very well. Humor relieves tension, and pacing out moments of wry exasperation and existential terror in turn makes the experience feel richer and more realistic.
A few notes:
|A relatively bulky form factor with|
mechanical limitations and limited dynamic range.
|That's right-- everything from Rush's self-titled 1974|
premiere album to 2012's Clockwork Angels, all
on this tiny deal. (Nose not shown.)
Robinson Crusoe Economics,” where the protagonist is in a unique economy where he is the only producer and consumer. To survive he needs to maximize both his personal profits and expand his productivity with very limited resources. Dafoe’s novel was written at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, when scientific and rational political thought became paramount. Crusoe was the embodiment of Enlightenment thought: To survive (profit), inventories are made, output calculated and problems are solved, mathematically and dispassionately. As this film is an absolute love letter to Science, nothing could be more appropriate.
• Donald Glover has a small role as Rich Purnell, a JPL astrodynamic physicist who figures in a key plot point. He plays it like a slovenly genius savant: minimal eye contact, poor social skills, the whole deal. Still, as he was both Troy Barnes in “Community” and comic rap artist Childish Gambino, when he showed up on-screen I expected comedy that never actually materialized. Strange.
• Seen in 3D at a late show. I was the only one laughing at the punchy dialog. The 3D is very good, feels natural and the image is unusually bright. See it that way.