Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Martian

This week for Hit Me With Your Best Shot Nathaniel at The Film Experience is taking a week off and so I thought it would be fun to continue the series and ask my twitter followers for a suggestion. My follower Ken Gardner was first to pipe in with The Martian as his suggestion and I was happy to comply! I think I will do this more because it was fun to have something completely unpredictable to watch.

I have previously reviewed The Martian so you will want to check out that review here. Back in 2015 it was one of my favorites of the year, so does it hold up? Yes, yes it does!

Back in my original review I said ” I loved the character of Mark Watney and found even the smallest victories compelling. Plus, the overall story of his rescue is so exciting!” and I’d still agree with that assessment. If you don’t bond with Mark and Matt Damon’s performance than you won’t like this movie. It’s as simple as that. Fortunately I did so I had a blast watching it, even on the rewatch.

I think what makes him so great is he is an optimist. I’m so tired of cynical movies with bitter characters. Here you have a man who has every reason to give up but he doesn’t. He keeps going and he does so in such a likable engaging way. When he cheers, you cheer. When he faces obstacles you feel tense and frustrated. That is SOOO refreshing.

A lot of the success comes from the novel that manages to explain the science without being boring. I know nothing about thermodynamics, botany or physics but author Andy Weir and screenwriter Drew Goddard do such a good job breaking the science down, making the simplest of things compelling and easy to understand. When Mark creates water for instance or grows potatoes it isn’t confusing but a thrilling victory.

Ridley Scott also does a great job creating a believable Mars environment that feels barren and yet beautiful. It’s what I imagine Mars looks like, which is really all that is required of a director.

I admit the ending is a bit sillier than in the book but the ensemble cast is so good I buy it. I love that the entire world cheers the rescue of one man. How great would that be if we could all grasp the value of the one person? I love movies that make me cheer and The Martian definitely is one of those films.

All that said, my best shot is probably fairly pedestrian. The reason this movie works is Matt Damon. He earns his Oscar nomination for best actor by creating a believable survivalist that I was rooting for all along the way. I love Mark Watney in the novel, and I love him in this film, and I think you have to give a lot of the credit for that to Matt Damon. He makes him a character we want to be saved.

Just as he is telling us how bad a situation he is in, Mark reminds us he is a botanist and “Mars will come to fear my botany powers“. This is my favorite shot because it encapsulates the script and character of Mark, which is so much fun to watch.

Make sure you are following me on twitter for my daily superhero showdown and other opportunities to suggests videos and posts like this one!

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