“Thanks to my Uncle Tommy in China, we get another chance at this.” What? They left this in the script? How can that be?
One of the great problems with The Martian is the writing. Because even after astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, is left for dead on Mars, he manages to survive beyond the limits of human belief. And that is pretty amazing, right? This should be an Oscar contender for just how much a human being can survive. Seems to be a theme this year. See the Revenant.
So after this line and a few more like it, I kind of stopped cheering for him because the writing was so poor. We really didn’t find out what kind of man he was beyond the fact that he could grow potatoes on Mars. So yes, he is super smart, but that doesn’t mean the movie is.
I wanted more conversations with people he cared about and there just weren’t any. In the wake of friends and family, we get the NASA on the ground team, with a great cast like Sean Bean and Kirsten Wiig, who could be cut out of cardboard, their characters are so stiff. Even Jeff Daniels, who has terrific range, is boring. And I hesitate to say this, but aside from the “I’m so smart astronaut stuff” and the cool space shots, this movie is pretty lifeless.
I’m thinking of space movies like Gravity that left me feeling lucky to be alive and walking on the earth. I don’t know if Matt Damon’s character is just a little too glib, or if it was the disco soundtrack, or the body double they used to show Damon’s weight loss, whatever it was I just wasn’t buying it.
The only thing really working is Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert that makes you believe he really is stuck on Mars. For good. I wish.