Why The Martian can never be an Interstellar or a Gravity?
written by Souranath Banerjee
This article is only for those who have already seen The Martian OR for those who have no intention of seeing it in near future.
Yesterday i watched Ridley Scott‘s latest space adventure The Martian (2015) and the film made me love Interstellar (2014) and Gravity (2013) more than ever!
Well, that’s just another way of saying that The Martian is extremely over hyped.
Of course I have my reasons for pillorying everyone’s favorite film (so it seems because of it’s box-office collections) but before that, let me put forward a few points which are actually pretty impressive in the film (unfortunately only a few).
Firstly, no doubt Matt Damon‘s acting skills!
He almost single handedly towed the film to stability; nothing extraordinary though but always up to the mark, he never gave anything for us (pseudo-critics) to complain about.
The same goes for the entire cast actually – Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Mackenzie Davis, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara; pretty stereotyped casting and everyone sleepwalked through their roles with distinction.
And then, the other thing that is unique about The Martian is the concept of potato-farming in Mars.
Yes, the possibility of a botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) to ‘science the shit out‘ and start growing his own food to survive in the red planet – now that’s something innovative and probably the one and only ‘wow’ element of the film.
‘They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially colonized it. So, technically, I colonized Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!‘
Other than this, the script simply cannot be more predictable.
Within the first fifteen minutes the basic storyline is more or less visible to you – a man thought to be dead but very much alive, deserted in some lonely planet and now he has to survive through great difficulties until he is rescued.
And you won’t believe your speculation skills – absolutely no diversions, no surprises, no twists in the storyline – and yes, at the end he actually gets rescued!
US government has always invested and taken great risks to rescue Matt Damon, be it in Saving Private Ryan or in Interstellar. So The Martian doesn’t come to us as a surprise in that context as well.
And thus, the whole film is about How astronaut Matt tries to survive and How NASA tries to bring him back – and then, even many of these ‘Hows’ can be anticipated.
For example in the middle of the film when everything seems to be suspiciously going fine; in Mars the potatoes are growing fat enough and in Earth the NASA rescue plans are looking possible, then suddenly Jeff Daniels (the head of NASA) looks almost directly to the camera and says something like ‘i hope nothing goes wrong in-between’!
And in the very next scene (as so expected) some accident brings death to Matt’s potato plants.
In several such occasions the film is too easy to predict and even the problems or the related emotions are too much on your face.
Visual effects was though pretty good over all, except for the titling- sequence-debris being unnecessarily noisy and jittery. And also the poorly mismatched shots of a body double being used to show the skinny version of Matt Damon towards the end of the film (before he finally does the long build up Iron Man stunt).
The comparison with the two earlier mega-space films Interstellar and Gravity are inevitable but unfortunately The Martain neither have the brilliant plot twists of Interstellar nor the innovativeness of Gravity.
Legendary director Ridley Scott has given us far better SiFi films earlier in his career, the likes of Blade Runner (1982) and Alien (1979) and thus our anticipations are always rocket high.
Anyways, let’s cheers to the discovery of water in Mars and to better Mars/space films in future!
Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com