Sunday, 13 September 2015

THE MARTIAN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015 - Murrican Moovees Fer Wun n' Awl

The Martian (2015)
Dir. Ridley Scott
Scr. Drew Goddard
Nov. Andy Weir
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The worst thing to say about Ridley Scott's The Martian is that it's, well, uh, okay, uh, I guess, uh, sort of. Well, it's not bad, I suppose, but to suggest it's any better than moderately watchable would be stretching it.

The best thing to say about The Martian is that it's the finest work the overrated hack Ridley Scott has pulled out of his ass since he delivered the miraculous fluke Alien. Seeing that he's only made two or three watchable pictures since the astonishing 1979 horror-in-space masterpiece, this is clearly as back-handed a compliment I can pay to this new bloated effort.

By now, most viewers will know it's the story of a manned mission to Mars in which one astronaut is left behind for dead, only he's most assuredly alive and needs to muster all of his scientific know-how to survive until a rescue mission can be launched. And that's pretty much it.

One man alone against the Angry Red Planet.

Based on the popular novel by Andy Weir and with workmanlike scripting by Drew Goddard, the tale is well-structured as a science fiction survival tale with relatively distinctive (though hardly credible) characters in the rescue ship (all solidly played, especially the always-engaging Michael Peña) and at NASA (all solidly played as cliches), plus a fair whack of semi-amusing monologue-style dialogue for hunky Matt Damon to utter as the stranded astronaut.

The film conjures memories of Byron Haskin's (The War of the Worlds, From the Earth to the Moon, Conquest of Space) modest, but terrific 1964 survival adventure Robinson Crusoe On Mars. The memories Ridley Scott's film inspires are good ones - mostly how good Haskin's film was and how woefully overblown and occasionally dull The Martian is.

We know from the beginning that yummy Matt is not going to die and that good, old fashioned American bravery and know-how is going to save the day. The ride to get to this predictable conclusion is intermittently entertaining, but buried beneath its layers of fat is a much snappier, pulpier movie wanting to burst forth like the parasitical penis creature exploded from within John Hurt's chest in Alien.

I've always wondered what happened to the Ridley Scott of that 1979 classic. The Martian could have used that guy.


The Martian makes its world premiere as a TIFF Gala at TIFF 2015. For tix, times, dates and venues visit the TIFF website HERE.