Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"The Martian" - Movie Review

Better Beginning Than Ending

I just saw both "The Martian" and "Jurassic World" this week. And, here are two movies whose first halves are better than their second halves.

The setup of "The Martian" is very good! Stranded on Mars, Matt Damon must use his science background to engineer his way out of dying on the red planet before a return mission can come and get him.

(SPOILERS BEGIN) His plan goes well, and he meets with setbacks, which you would expect. Meanwhile, everyone on Earth tries to figure on a way to come and rescue him. Everything goes well, in that respect. But, the ending gets a little crazy, including a space- based "Gravity"-type action sequence that defeated the decidedly better science-based opening. (END SPOILERS)

Ridley Scott does have a return to form here, after the muddled "Prometheus." Scott has always seemed at home with science-fiction, and I hope that he continues making more sci fi.

The acting is very good, especially by Damon, who must carry the film by design. The film score is pretty routine, which like "Prometheus" doesn't help the film like it should.

The cinematography is fine. I did have a problem with the visual effects. Those set on Mars are okay enough, even though they occasionally lack polish. But, the space-based ones look worse than those in the superior 2000 entry "Red Planet." That's odd, and might be a reflection of budgetary restrictions. ILM is on board here, but is a minor player. The effects seem more suited to a higher-budget Science Channel program.

With Scott Kelly doing his year in space at the moment on the International Space Station, it is especially odd to not see The Milky Way in the background while the ships are moving though space. As seen from Kelly's photographs, our galaxy should be very prominent, and really impossible to miss. Instead, we just get black, with a few scattered stars.

So, a good, but mixed entry. I am going to listen to the audiobook, and it should be interesting to see how that turns out compared to the film.

***1/2 (3 1/2 Out of 5 Stars)

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