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Thread: THE MARTIAN (Ridley Scott, 2015)

  1. #1
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    THE MARTIAN (Ridley Scott, 2015)

    This is a survival story about a stranded astronaut on Mars starring Matt Damon. Surprisingly this movie doesn't seem like one that Ridley Scott directed. It has much more of a popular, mainstream undertone to it much like what Clint Eastwood accomplished with his Space Cowboys (2000). Two minor weaknesses seem to occur in the movie where like Alfonso Cauron's Gravity (2013) the opening scene appears too theatrically cute instead of a more serio-comically compelling and authentic sharp realism like that directed by Stanley Kubrick as with his 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Gravity at least transforms into a more serious dramatic and intimate performance unlike The Martian which seems to retain more of a space opera format and hoping the use of hard technology throughout would somehow make this movie superlative. The mainstream, popularity flourish that Ridley Scott incorporates into this movie permeates most of the dialogue and performances that takes away from the visceral immediacy of the moment. A smaller problem occurs with Ridley Scott's use of oral narrative between Watney and others as the text messages are being typed to simply inform audience of what is being said. I imagine that by the time a real Mar's mission is underway a redundant system of both visual and audio communication will be common place. Even today with the Dragon Program, it's possible to provide text and oral computer communication simultaneously. A computer synthesized voice instead of the actor's speaking their own lines would have had much more of a sensory impact. At the very least a computer program could have been downloaded to Watney's base station to allow for this oral/text transmission.

    In the end what Ridley Scott seems to have accomplished is a photographically gorgeous setting and set design that, however, still can't be sufficiently enhanced into perfect reality with today's 3-D imaging technology. Other more powerful, visually dramatic and appealing, and intense performances having space as its primary subject matter include:

    Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). Tom Hank's Apollo 13 (1995). Robert Zemeckis' Contact (1997). Maria Lidon's Stranded (2001). Duncan Jones' Moon (2009). Defying Gravity (2009 television series). Gonzalo Lopez-Gallegos' Apollo 18 (2011). Alfonso Cauron's Gravity (2013) Christopher Nolan's Interstellar (2014).

    What would have been spectacular would have been whether or not Ridley Scott could have followed in the approach of William Eubank's Love (2011) about an abandoned astronaut aboard the International Space Station or William Eubank had an opportunity to try to direct The Martian.

  2. #2
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    Tom Hanks of course is no t the director of Apollo 13, but Ron Howard; that film may have most in common with this new one. I'd agree with most analyses that The Martian is more successful and better science than Interstellar. Its lack of melodrama is refreshing. How do you survive a disaster out in deep apace? Not by brooding and panicking but by staying cool, keeping your sense of humor, and problem-solving. Sciencing the shit out of it. Sometimes small ones are more meaningful and original -- Duncan Jones's Moon, for instance is cool. There's another recent little one that is relevant and I'm trying to remember the name of it.

    From my Sept.-Oct. 2015 New York Movie Journal


    THE MARTIAN (Ridley Scott). Robinson Crusoe in space. Amiable everyman (and team botanist) Matt Damon accidentally left by himself on Mars a billion miles from Earth -- and he jokes. It's fun. But tough. "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this." Writer Andy Weir's book puts the science back into science fiction. You may not understand a lot of the chatter if you're not scientific, but this is a good story, with constant interplay between loneliness and togetherness: the Chinese even chip in and help the Americans save their man. If that doesn't work for you, enjoy the lovely images of space suits and orange landscape (the Red Planet turns out to be the color of Jessica Chastain's hair) -- and disco music, all Watney's got to listen to. At Regal Union Square 3 Oct. 2015.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-04-2015 at 07:38 AM.

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    Drama and Reality

    Netflix offered up Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I watched it last night. I recall Ridley's Alien and what I enjoyed, really enjoyed was the selective edits of reality. What made that special was its authenticity. It didn't seem directed. It took the premise of a monster sci fi film and then placed various people in reasonable positions on a ship and then let it fly! Unfortunately for me, The Martian doesn't do that. It seems to play to the audience sort like Jaws to hit the funny bone and psychological buttons. It didn't seem real. The astronauts reading their own text messages just seemed odd and unnatural. I've never seen anybody to it anywhere I've seen people text. What Kubrick brought was minimalism of reality and its beauty if one was patient. Wow, the opening black sequence of 2001 with just a murmur of musical sound really grabbed my attention.

    Interstellar and Apollo 13, the other hand, unlike The Martian, drew me in. Yes I oohed and awed at the Martian landscape, yet the ground crew seemed stereotyped from many other traditional stereotypes. It didn't seem real at all. It was a movie plot, maybe the fault of the book I don't know. Gravity had the gravitas and Sandra Bullock had the script and role to pull it off. Matt Damon was stuck with a script and direction that didn't really seem, well ... I was there consistently. It was if someone tried to put themselves in the same situation, talked to a lot of NASA scientist and then wrote the script. I just didn't organic. It was if the author or director sought out scenes and dialogue that would impact the audience, instead of the other way around. Let the drama unfold and the edit the hell out of it.

    The American public has a short memory and seem to have forgotten Reese Witherspoon's Oscar and Golden Globe nominated performance in Wild (2014) or James Franco's Oscar and Golden Globe nominated performance in 127 Hours (2010) or even Tom Hank's Oscar nominated and Golden Globe's winning performance in Cast Away (2000).
    Last edited by tabuno; 10-05-2015 at 04:36 AM. Reason: Added references to other individual performances

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    The Martian

    The Martian – directed by Ridley Scott

    My first impression, is that this film is the most dynamic movie of the year – so far. In terms of storytelling, it has all the elements filmgoers and critics want to see in a great film: epic scale action and pathos in story, technological filmmaking perfection, great direction and acting. “The Martian” has all of these elements. Scott is a great craftsman when it comes to the filmmaking process. He knows how to balance all of the elements to create an excellent product. While he may have stumbled with his personal film, “Prometheus.” Scott has crafted a classic science fiction movie that gives the audience everything they expect when they plunk down their hard-earned cash and surpasses it. This is an international sensation involving – not just America and Europe – the Chinese as heroes in the adventure of space. We don’t have any government villains here. Nor is the bureaucracy pictured as contrarians. Scott balances the story, showing us the personal journey of one man’s struggle, while also reflecting on the behind-the-scenes story of the scientists who help the astronauts pull through.

    The principle focus of conflict is survival – “Castaway” meets “Gravity” – in the battle of one (wo)man versus his or her circumstances. You can roll over and accept your fate, or get down to the business of making what you have work for you. Andy Weir researched everything from botany (Mark’s area of expertise) to astro-physics to how the JPL works. He wanted it all in the novel and it’s there. “The Martian” often bogs down at times, trying to get it right. That aspect appeals to the sc-fi geek fans who appreciate it when authors and filmmakers load the story with the right kinds of details about what works in space and what doesn’t. In most instances, Scott and his advisors got things right. (For when they didn’t, follow the link below)

    The film is gorgeous to behold. Some of it shot in Jordan at the famed Wadi Rum with its red sands and high cliffs – perfect for a Martian landscape. DP Dariusz Wolski (Pirates of the Caribbean films) gives Mars a rich Grand Canyon feel with wide shots that diminish the character to scale – a tiny dusty trail on a giant landscape. This film has the same visual appeal as a “Lawrence of Arabia” with its wide shots of the desert landscape – desolate, windy and lonely. Unlike the intimacy of “Castaway” on an island, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is lost in the middle of a desert so large it dwarfs the Sahara by thousands of miles.

    Yet, when Scott returns to the character on Mars, we find him in close quarters at times, making do with potatoes and ketchup for dinner, listening to endless loops of disco music that becomes one of the running gags for comic relief. Scott manages to draw the timeline short at times – the scene where Mark extracts the rod from his stomach – to condensed, where we see how the water affects the Martian soil.

    I found no weakness in a strong supporting cast. While Damon is the main focus, the spaceship crew, the NASA staff, and the JPL players all had significant parts to play and kept the film’s pace brisk. Not once during the show did I feel the story drag or weaken. You’ve got top players with integral parts all contributing to a satisfying resolution to this grand scale science fiction drama. Even the score that climaxes with the liftoff of the rescue ship by Harry Gregson-Williams stands out as one of the most unique film scores since “Lord of the Rings” and is bound to garner Academy attention at the end of the year.

    This movie represents a return of Scott to great filmmaking. When many said Ridley Scott had made his last good film, they spoke in haste. Not only is “The Martian” a great science fiction drama; it will go down in cinema history as one of Scott’s best, far surpassing “Alien” as his jewel in the crown. I was so enthralled by what I saw on the screen, I will make a bold prediction that “The Martian” will be nominated for Best Picture, Scott for Best Director, and Damon as Best Actor. It’s that good! And I’m not alone. Over 90% of the Top Critics believe that, too. It’s not to be missed.

    Here is the link that discusses the true science of Mars for those who like geeky stuff.
    http://space.io9.com/science-of-the-...asc-1734726471
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  5. #5
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    My first impression, is that this film is the most dynamic movie of the year so far. In terms of storytelling, it has all the elements filmgoers and critics want to see in a great film: epic scale action and pathos in story, technological filmmaking perfection, great direction and acting.
    And it has humor and is fun. Don't forget that element that distinguishes it from other similar lost-in-space films. Glad you liked it so much. I think it's one of the year's best, probably. Don't be deceived by my only writing a thumbnail review -- I just was swamped with NYFF stuff.

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