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: Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Running time: 127 minutes

Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

jupiter_ascendingTo create Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowski siblings seem to have borrowed elements from other successful space operas like Star Wars and Star Trek, from Thor and even from the classic fairytale of Cinderella. Putting all these together should have a lot of potential or at least it should be fun.The movie was supposed to come out last summer but was pushed back to the dumping ground that is February and once you have seen the movie, there is no question why.

The Abrasax Dynasty is a royal family that has always ruled life on every planet. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a house-cleaner with no aspirations in life, discovers after being saved from a group of alien assassins by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) that she is the rightful owner of the planet. But the other three heirs, Titus (Douglas Booth), Kalique (Tuppence Middleston) and Balem (Eddie Redmayne) also want to claim Earth for themselves.

jupiter_aJupiter is the typical role of a nobody, who doesn’t quite fit in the world and suddenly discovers she is special and has to save the world. Yes, we have seen it a million times. The worst part is that with these roles you normally go through the hero’s journey but Jupiter has next to no character development and Mila Kunis doesn’t convey any emotion throughout the film, even when so much is at stake. Basically, Jupiter’s whole role in the movie is to be the damsel in distress and to be constantly saved by the genetically engineered, half human and half wolf, Caine. Channing Tatum is good with what he is given (at least his performance is not embarrassing and has things to do), he has a pretty cool pair of hover.boots and his relation with Sean Bean’s character, Stinger, had some potential to be interesting.

Alright, let’s talk about Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne. I’m still confused about his performance as Balem, the main villain who wants Jupiter dead to claim the Earth for himself. I don’t know if he was just bad, if that is what the Wachoswki told him to do or if I actually appreciate that he tried to do something different. It was definitely fun to watch, though maybe not in a good way.

JUPITER ASCENDINGRepetitive, with a tone of exposition and some terrible dialogue, Jupiter Ascending can only be compared to the Star Wars prequels. It had a lot of potential, the production design is gorgeous, it’s visually stunning, but maybe the Wachowski should stick to directing and leave the writing to someone else, because at this point The Matrix seems to be the exception and not the rule.

3,5/10