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Matt Damon News Column
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From: (Anonymous) Date: September 24th, 2015 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

RE: Review

I was just coming to post this wonderfully articulate review! It actually made me tear up with the joy of knowing 'He feels it, too!' I particularly love:

The Review:

The film is an unabashed love letter to the notion of scientific discovery, human ingenuity, and the idea that any problem can be solved with enough work, patience, and smarts. [my interjection - just like the book!]

... it is a top-notch piece of high-quality popcorn cinema featuring some great movie star turns in a film filled with spectacular special effects that are almost beside the point. It is the kind of film that would be an Oscar frontrunner if we still considered top-notch studio output to be would-be Oscar contenders. But awards glory or not, The Martian is spectacular entertainment.

... the key is how casual and cheerful Damon is as he explains the particular scientific ideas and processes that he will use to extend his survival beyond the supplies left behind. Damon is fantastic here, offering another in a growing list of excellent “all by myself” star turns like Sandra Bullock in Gravity, Tom Hanks in Castaway, and Will Smith in I Am Legend. This is one of his best performances and a shining example of why he has been a movie star for the last 18 years.

I am emphasizing the actors because this is truly a character piece disguised as a special effects extravaganza. But that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t have superb visuals and dynamite production design.

Arthur Max has created a vivid and authentic Mars exterior, and the copious special effects are flawless without really drawing attention to themselves.

Again this is Damon’s movie, and he absolutely runs with it, and the wonky movie only works because its star makes the scientific exposition relatable without dumbing it down in the slightest.

The Martian is one of the rare Ridley Scott movies (along with arguably Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, and Kingdom of Heaven) that qualifies as genuinely moving. The film doesn’t lay on the melodrama, but it is rather filled with moments of unexpected goodness and utter selflessness, which at my old age is far more moving than the standard “cry cause the kid died” melodrama.

The Martian pulls off an incredible trick, something that usually only applies to true stories, in that its third act is relentlessly suspenseful and tense even though we (presumably) already know the overall outcome of the story. The picture spends most of its time only subtly dealing with the possibility of failure, with Damon’s can-do spirit leading the way, only to come upon a final act that is an exercise in bruised-forearm tension even as it maintains the tone that it started on. It’s a tricky balance and one that shouldn’t go unheralded.

The optimism that runs through The Martian isn’t just about the notion of how science can save the world and/or how our desire for discovery and invention can change the world. It’s also a testament to the notion that Hollywood can and will still make unabashed popcorn entertainment as good and as smart as The Martian when they just get out of their own way. The underlying message in the movie is also the fundamental message of the film: “Look what we can do.”

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