If you ask me, there’re a couple of vexing flaws at the heart of Ridley Scott’s space adventure Martian (Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain).
At its core, the movie is about a young astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) stranded on Mars and the heroic efforts mounted from Earth to rescue him.
When a fierce storm hits the Ares 3 mission on Mars, Mark is struck by a flying object while returning to the mother ship Hermes. He’s mistakenly presumed dead and the Hermes crew leaves for earth without him.
Now given the general callousness of earthlings toward fellow humans and the well publicized resource squeeze and malaise affecting US space programs lately, it’s highly unlikely so much effort and money would be expended on rescuing a single astronaut stranded five million miles from home.
Even if we have to account for cinematic liberties with reality, messing up the basic premise didn’t sit well with me.
But if you’re not the fussy kind and willing to watch with a less critical eye, you’re likely to find Martian an enjoyable outing.
As the stranded astronaut Mark Watney determined to survive in a hostile environment and constrained by food supply, the well-toned, beefy Matt Damon makes for extremely compelling watching.
Neatly scripted, the film trots along at a merry pace alternating, both on Mars and Earth, between scenes of ingenuity, obstacles and overcoming hurdles.
Visual appeal is one of the movie’s strong points, particularly of the stark, reddish Martian landscape. Apparently, this portion was filmed in Southern Jordan.
There were a few other niggling issues. For instance, there’re reference to people on earth rooting for Mark but we see very little evidence of that enormous interest in Mark’s pitiable plight (except toward the end).
There are no surprises in the film because you’ve divined early on that despite the severe challenges Mark will encounter, in the end it’s going to be a happy ending.
In my not-so-humble opinion, Martian is one more of those Hollywood feel-good junk of ‘heroic victory over great adversity.’ Like other junk of its ilk and lacking a strong emotional core, this one too will be forgotten in a few weeks.
But Martian seems to have struck a chord with fans.
When I watched the film six days after its release, there were over two dozen people in the hall. Not bad for the matine show on a week day.