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The Martian

A science-fiction survival story about an astronaut who, believed to be dead, is accidentally left behind during a mission to Mars and must use what little resources he has to survive until he can be rescued (but not for 4 years) or until his resources run out and he perishes. I'm going to say it right up front that even though I've only seen a couple of Ridley Scott's films (Alien and Blade Runner included), this is definitely one of my top favorites if not my top favorite film of his that I've seen so far (not to mention one of the best films he's done in a while) and proves my theory that Scott is an excellent visual director but even better when he has a strong script to back him up. The Martian is definitely the latter as Scott gives us very rich visuals, making the surface of Mars look both beautifully and harshly realistic and NASA back on Earth a nice mix of advanced technology grounded in the present mixed with the beauty of business related architecture, all the while being backed up by a very strong script, cast and crew. The script is wonderfully written combining compelling scientific info (that left me leaving the theater feeling smarter and well-educated), slick comedy, suspenseful tension and powerful drama all into one. Matt Damon is wonderful as the lead, effortlessly oozing likability and sympathy from the audience within the first fifteen minutes and easily carrying most of the action on his own, but things are made even better as he's joined by a rich cast of actors ranging from Jessica Chastain and Jeff Daniels to Kristen Wiig and Donald Glover, all given enough personality and character for you to understand and like them. The Martian reminded me a lot of Apollo 13 (and I mean that with the fondest of comparisons as Apollo 13 is one of my favorite films from the 90s and The Martian is definitely of that caliber) in that both dealt with the people at NASA working together to help solve the many problems of getting an astronaut (or three astronauts in Apollo 13's case) back home safe. Just that mixture of intelligent well educated people working hard to overcome overbearing obstacles through stubborn optimism, ingenuity, sacrifice, and compassion is just something I've always enjoyed seeing with admiration and inspiration and has helped steer my world views in terms of facing obstacles. If I had any issues with the movie, they were extreme nitpicks (and I mean nitpicks smaller than Ant-Man at microscopic level here) such as it seemed like Jeff Daniels was going to become a evil corporate head stereotype at one point but didn't (thankfully), the rest of the Mars crew's relationships with their families being breezed over a bit, and then a couple of times where it jumped too far ahead in time too quickly but I can understand why with all three so they weren't really issues at all. Even though we still have quite a few films coming out before the end of the year, I can definitely say that the Martian is one of my top favorites of the year. I definitely say see it. Its a blast! Final Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5

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