The Martian trailer – reaction

Martian1Mark Watney has made a career out of doing the impossible. The tale of an astronaut left for dead when his mission was abandoned, The Martian was first published in free online installments on author Andy Weir’s website. From that success, it was published as a 99p Kindle book which then drove the “traditional” publication in printed form.

The son of a particle physicist with a background in computer science, his meticulous research showed on every page, and even a year before it was in hard copy Twentieth Century Fox had snapped up the film rights.

Martian3Directed by Alien and Blade Runner‘s Ridley Scott from a script adapted by The Cabin in the Woods‘ Drew Goddard, The Adjustment Bureau‘s Matt Damon heads an all star cast featuring Mama‘s Jessica Chastain, Looper‘s Jeff Daniels, Serenity‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Fantastic Four‘s Kate Mara, Jupiter Ascending‘s Sean Bean and Sebastian Stan, the Winter Soldier himself.

The first trailer has been released, and the team have expressed their views.

Martian4Dario Persechino – It looks interesting but it is too long a trailer giving too much of the story. I think it has potential and was excited at first but the more the trailer went on, the less I cared.

Damon is a good actor and it has some great supporting cast around him, watching the story unfold in its intended cinematic arena I may have been drawn in more and cared about the characters. This is clearly coming off the heels of Gravity and Interstellar‘s popularity, both of which I enjoyed and I think there are more good NASA focused space stories to be told… I’m not convinced yet that this is one of them, but I will give it a go.

Martian5Hopefully by the time it comes around I will have forgotten the trailer and can go in a little more blank, letting the story unfold as it should.

Michael Flett – It’s a solid story which was very well received, written by Andy Weir who did everything by the book, researching everything he wrote about, and it showed. The proposition was that the story should be within a hand’s breadth of being achievable, all the technologies should be if not currently in service but realistic within the engineering of this generation or at the very most the next. For that reason, it truly is science fiction, a story told upon science, not speculation, not fantasy.

Martian6Certainly it seems faithful to the book from what is shown, which is quite a lot, though Mars itself seems to take a back seat – are we still feeling the burn from Mission to Mars, Red Planet and John Carpenter’s Vampires of Mars that we don’t want to admit a film called The Martian is set, you know, on Mars?

It’s just a shame he won’t bump into John Carter on his way to rendezvous with the rescue party…

Martian7I have no problem with Matt Damon, though I know he gets a lot of flack from certain sides. With Jessica Chastain playing Commander Lewis (“Likes disco,” as it says in the viral video which accompanies the trailer – oh, how they laughed, those who have read the book), it is a bit of an Interstellar reunion, and certainly it’s wonderful that with The Martian that’s three years in a row there has been a “serious” science fiction film as a major cinema proposition rather than a little indie arthouse release, following on the success of Gravity ($716 million globally) and Interstellar ($673 million globally).

I’m not sold on Jeff Daniels as Administrator Teddy Sanders; he always comes across as a sweet guy but he doesn’t strike me as a career scientist or someone who has clawed his way to the top of NASA, fighting across hungry senators to preserve budgets and making the hard decisions of which projects are greenlit and which are cut.

Martian8Similarly, I know I only have Transcendence to judge her by, but even in the few brief shots of her in this trailer I am sick of looking at Kate Mara’s face. All she ever does is scowl. Okay, she reminds me of Clea DuVall who did the same in a lot of her roles, but she knew when to break it with a smile, she knew when to let you know as much as she hated the world she didn’t hate you. Kate Mara, just a sack of misery. Maybe she put a bet on Sean Bean’s character dying before hers without realising that he’s safe back on Earth while she’s on the mission?

I have faith in Ridley Scott to deliver; I hope to look on Prometheus as a glitch, an aberration. The problem was not his production which was near flawless, it was the hideous mess of a script, but here there was a solid narrative courtesy of Andy Weir before a single frame of film was shot. They had a clear direction, all they needed to do was follow it.

Martian9My only fear is… it looks dull. The biggest problem with the novel was the characters or lack thereof which needs to be addressed in the film, and it doesn’t really seem to have any sparkle of any kind. There should be some sense of excitement, of adventure, even in the danger and loneliness. This should be a film to inspire, to remind why fifty years ago we reached for the stars and to make us want to do it again, and I’m not getting that from this first trailer.

November will tell if it’s a Merry Christmas for Mark Watney and for serious science fiction again. One thing I gotta ask, though – Mark is single, his only family is his parents, so who are the woman and the kid?

Martian10Adam Dworak – I can’t stand Matt Damon, so I know I’m not open minded about this. His acting has all the quality of fine grained wood, so having him as the lead is a problem for me.

“From director Ridley Scott?” A studio is comfortable making that statement after Prometheus? Yeah, sure that’s a guarantee of quality these days.

Martian12In this trailer I see all the clichés of the space disaster movie, worried faces in mission control and the off-the-books chance to save them which requires them to defy orders as all he can do in his lonely outpost is touch the screen showing the photo of his loved ones.

I find films which require endless exposition tiresome. What am I supposed to think about a movie when even the trailer is exposition heavy?

Martian13It’s obviously that it’s caught in the Gravity well, but where that was successful because of a compact ninety one minutes which kept the audience on their toes because of the sense of the ticking clock, here the countdown is over a period of months, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and it just doesn’t seem as exiting.

Matthew Rutland – Even if this is a prequel for Interstellar, I don’t care. I’ll be skipping this.

The Martian is scheduled for release on 25th November 2015




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