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: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Title: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Release date: March 28th, 2014

Running time: 136 minutes

Director: Joe and Anthony Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford.

Summary: After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers living quietly in Washington DC and trying to adjust to the modern world.But when a SHIELD colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off assailants sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy– the Winter Soldier.

CAPThis is not just an action blockbuster but a tremendous piece of entertainment. Convining the superhero genre with espionage-drama and dealing with contemporary themes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is smart and engaging with a character driven story,

Chris Evans is so good playing this straight man, that doesn’t have much personality without making it corny. Finally we see him struggling and understanding that things are not always just black or white. The action sequences were phenomenal, not only showing his strength but also his smart way of fighting, and taking more advantage of the shield which is not a defensive piece anymore, it’s also used as a weapon.

Black Widow was a great counterpoint to Steve, we take a look at a much personal layer of the character. Scarlett was very good at hinting a much deeper background and even though at times I hoped she wasn’t so flirty I guess that’s her armour. More than in any other Marvel film we can see what a great actor Samuel L. Jackson is. I felt much more connected with Nick Fury in this movie. The car chasing scene was probably one of the best pieces in the movie. And it’s interesting that he got rid of the patch, which is so iconic of him.

Anthony Mackie was a fantastic addition and the chemistry with Chris Evans was perfect. The costume could have been a joke but the wings worked very well and the Falcon turn out to be a great comic relief. I wish the movie had explore more the Winter Soldier as he’s the subtitle of the film and Sebastian Stan was so good in it, but this is like an introduction of the character and we’ll see more of him in further Marvel movies. The arm looked fantastic and even with the mask on he was able to portray so much emotion and the struggle of Bucky trying to find his identity. All the fights between him and Cap were just breathtaking.

Other quick thoughts: Steven Strange’s reference, nearly made me jump off my seat. Let’s hope he will appear in Phase 3! The scene with old Peggy was heartbreaking. Maria Hill was much better utilized in this movie than in The Avengers, something that can’t be said of  Sharon Carter, who wasn’t much developed. It was great to see Crossbones at the end. And of course Robert Redford as the villain was phenomenal. Probably the only thing that for me felt a bit unrealistic even for a comic book adaptation was Armin Zola in the computer.

This is definitely my favourite Marvel movie after The Avengers. I loved how this movie ties in with so many details of other Marvel previous films and the tv show and what it sets up for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel is taking the superhero genre to a whole different level.

9,5/10