Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The Martian 

Wednesday, Sep 30 2015

This otherworldly adventure yarn, with Matt Damon as a sort of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, might be the least self-serious movie Ridley Scott has ever made. Taking on Andy Weir's scientifically scrupulous hit novel (as adapted by Drew Goddard), Scott relaxes his usual brow-furrowed fussiness just enough to crank out an affable popcorn-muncher. Stranded on the Red Planet by guilt-stricken fellow astronauts who had to blast off in a hurry and figured him for dead, Damon's jokey, self-righteous survivalist answers his predicament by resolving to "science the shit out" of it. That leaves NASA with a mother of a management challenge: planning simultaneous rescues of an employee and its own public image. Admittedly, I was a little fuzzy on why they'd sent a whole human crew to Mars in the first place, given the inherent danger (and the fact that all anyone seemed to accomplish before the mishap was gathering soil samples). But it sure helps that the guy who did get stranded happened to be the botanist. The movie's yea-science stance is thrilling but also infantilizing at times, relying as it does on suspended disbelief. There's never any real doubt that our hero will be okay, just as there's never any sense of those real life challenges for which no amount of problem-solving teamwork montages will ever be enough. Oh well, it's only a movie. Damon as dudebro redeemed by deeply nerdist tendencies is someone we've wanted to believe in ever sinceGood Will Hunting. Here his numerous charismatic co-stars include Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, and Kristen Wiig. For a faraway no-man's land, this is one inviting world.


About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"