Movie Review: The Martian (2015)

Running time: 142 minutes

Director: Ridley Scott

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After being hit by a projectile in the middle of a fierce storm, astronaut Mark Watney is left behind in Mars by his crew mates who think he has died. Stranded in Mars all by himself, Mark will have to try to survive while finding a way to tell NASA he is still alive. In a hostile planet where food is unavailable, his only resources will be his intelligence and his optimism.

The character of Mark Watney in the book is simply fascinating. He is incredibly charming, he has a great and unexpected sense of humour, considering the situation he is in, but you also get his frustration when things don’t work as he planned. He is a relatable character and comes across as a real human being and it is all of those traits that make you so invested in his journey and Matt Damon captures every single one of those.

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However, this is not a one-man show and with such a huge cast there is not a weak link in the movie. Every single character serves its purpose and every actor is absolutely amazing. It’s a long list of actors to mention but from the people at NASA (Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover) to the Hermes crew (Jessica Chastain, Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Aksel Hennie) everyone is fantastic.There is not exactly character arcs but they are all well realized. You even get the relation between Watney and his crew mates even though you hardly see them together.

Even though there are some changes, as it is expected, I felt the same as I did when I read the book and that is what I want from an adaptation. I don’t mind the changes as long as they keep the essence of the book. The emotion and the tension was all there and especially the comedy. It’s amazing how such a serious situation can actually be so funny without being cartoonish. They succeeded at pulling it off just like the book did.

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Everyone is describing it as Castaway meets Apollo 13 and it really is. And it is just as great if not more. There is a lot of science going on but, unlike Interstellar, the science is easy to follow. You believe that everything going on in Mars could have actually happened as it doesn’t play so much as fiction but as a true story, with real humanity in it. It’s visually beautiful and the special effects, as it is typical from Ridley Scott, are outstanding.

The masterful editing, cutting between Mars, Earth and Hermes makes the 2 hours and 20 minutes just fly by. Ridley Scott’s filmmaking has proven to be a bit inconsistent in the last years (even decade) but The Martian shows that he still has it in him. This is one of those rare occasions where everything comes together perfectly, the direction, the writing, the performances, the visuals, to make a breathtaking film. The Martian is a movie not to be missed.

9,75/10

Movie Review: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Running time: 132 minutes

Director: Wes Ball

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The first Maze Runner movie was quite solid until they threw it all away trying to set up the sequel, leaving the audience with tones of unanswered questions. Now, if you do something that stupid, the sequel should better pay off. Unfortunately, this is not the case of The Scorch Trials, which, not only doesn’t answer any of the questions from the first movie, it raises even more and once again, leaves it all for the sequel. As a side note, I’m not going to review this movie as the adaptation of the book because little it had to do with what I once read on page. The adaptation is so vague that even though they kept the “trials” in the title, the changes in the story don’t have any trials and they are never acknowledged in the movie. They could have called it just The Scorch for all that it mattered.

Let’s dive into it. The movie picks up right where the first one left off, with Thomas and the rest of the Gladers that escaped the Maze being brought to a safe place away from WCKD and the Flare, a disease that affects the brain and affects most of the population, turning them into Cranks. There, they discover that theirs, wasn’t the only Maze and this first hour of the movie was actually really good. Dylan O’Brien does again a great job selling Thomas. He is likable and has such a weird way of running that makes it even more believable that he is in dangerous situations. Aiden Gillen as Janson is a great addition to the cast. He serves as the villain of this installment, and the character fits him like a glove, especially if you are used to seeing him as Littlefinger in Game of Thrones.

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Once they realized that they are still in the hands of WCKD, they escape the compound and venture into the Scorch, a vast desert that has end up with all signs of civilization. It is from this point going on where the movie starts to suffer. It all revolves around going from one place to another and finding some difficulties along the way. They get to the rebels, they don’t trust them and WCKD finds them. They find the Right Arm, they don’t trust them and WCKD finds them. It is pretty much the same over and over again.

And as a consequence of not being much story in it and not giving any answers, the characters are not well-developed. The Gladers, because they don’t have any memories, there’s not much depth into any of them. There was some character develolment in the first one because there was more talking, here it’s just walking from one place to the next and running away from the cranks. They are likable, though, except for Theresa, who it’s in the same note as in the first one and keeps making it impossible to understand why Thomas cares so much about her.

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As expected in a movie called The Maze Runner, there is a lot of running and those scenes are very well done. You get the sense of danger and the director handles the action really well. There are also some beautiful shots but, unlike in Mad Max: Fury Road, the great action doesn’t make up for the weak story telling and the final part, The Death Cure, better do an amazing job at explaining everything and make it have sense to take the trilogy from being merely entertaining to meaningful. In the end,  The Maze Runner is not at the level of The Hunger Games but it is definitely better than Divergent.

6,75/10