Fuck you Mars!
What happens if a super smart guy gets left behind on Mars? Well, spoiler alert; he tries to survive. For a film being about a man left behind in space, it plays rather as a feel-good movie. Which is strange, considering the fact that while in space, you are in a hostile environment, which is constantly trying to kill you. Throughout the movie there were only a couple of moments which conveyed any sense of danger or suspense. The rest of the time? Matt Damon is just chilling. Each time he leaves the relative safety of his base, it feels like he’s just taking a stroll through the park. This is Mars people, every venture outside should feel like a potential situation in which everything could go wrong. The difference between life and death. Nope, Matt just relaxes listening to some disco music. Now, does this make The Martian a bad movie? No. I enjoyed watching it very much, but the contrast between the subject matter and the feelings being generated by this film is quit peculiar.
Speaking of subject matter, I’m disappointed in how casual the story unfolds. We’re dealing with a man here, who is stranded all by himself, with no real survival options, being forced to live in solitude for a prolonged period of time, in SPACE. And at no point in time does the narrative address any of the psychological issues a person, exposed to similar conditions, most likely would endure. Matt Damon sure cracks a lot of jokes during the movie, so let’s just say that he uses humor to deal with the stress. But on a more serious note; I would have loved it if the movie addressed some philosophical issues. All the ingredients were already there; manipulation, survival, self doubt, dubious decision making, space exploration (!). Too bad nothing is done with it.
There is some very nicely designed tech in The Martian. I have a soft spot for spacesuits and the suits in this movie are beautiful. The landscapes that represent Mars look equally impressive. And the interior of The Hermes spacecraft is also a treat, if you like sci fi visuals, this movie will not disappoint. However, there was something that did not sit right with me throughout the film, and that is; I missed the sense of claustrophobia, which I usually associate with space travel. Space (as in “room”) on a spacecraft is a scarce commodity, meaning that everything onboard should be distributed economically. The crew of The Hermes had a more spacious gym than I frequent here on earth. As far as I know, even on huge space stations, all items are miniaturized to save room for essential instruments and life-support machines.
In closing; The Martian turned out being quit different from what I expected. It is a lighthearted, popcorn movie which is beautiful to look at. It still is good fun though, so I do recommend seeing it, just don’t expect a life altering experience.