While the buzz surrounding The Martian, the 2015 film based on Andy Weir's novel of the same name, directed by the brilliant Ridley Scott, appears to circle more 'round scientific accuracy, its flight of fancy shortcomings (it is, after all a sci fi film, not a documentary) are less for me at issue. Correctness of fact and historic reference (the sling shot debate) or dangling detail (that spare rocketship) take a back seat to what is, in my opinion, its brilliance, as a next step form of commercially viable sci-fi entertainment -- Sci Fi V2.0. The only "bad guy" is the dastardly "schneick happens" axiom -- there is no evil penny-pinching boss, no vengeful compatriot, no emotion-bogged "scientesse" (a la Hathaway's Interstellar damsel. "Interstellar - Time Blown," my review) to drop the proverbial car keys.
The Martian possesses its own galaxy of stars, from Chiwetel Ejiofor's gentleman-champion to Jeff Daniels to Kristen Wiig (brought on board primarily for a token bit o' schtick?) to Jessica Chastain's elegantly rendered smart/strong/way cool female character, is next-level sci-fi of the best kind. In this film, problem solving via creative application of know-how is the hero, housed in left-behind crewmember Mark Watney, brilliantly and understatedly portrayed by Matt Damon, who time and again manages to prove sheer talent alone by the film roles he accepts. With his quiet storming of the silver screen back in his 1997 Good Will Hunting as intro to an ever-growing list of amazing portrayals in memorable productions, Matt Damon exists as rarified global superstar who thrives on multiple levels despite leaving a pronounced lack of social-media-fed pulp in his wake.
"I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this."
Just might be the best line. Ever. When else has so lofty a thought been expressed on film with such earthly realism, so casually and perfectly placed -- and with no emotional hailstorm to preface then hatch it?
As our hallowed Star Wars and Star Trek franchises continue to break records and entertain via old fashioned drama, reliant on humanoid shortcomings, The Martian has arrived (as did the 1997 gem Contact, with its sublime line referring the need for a poet) with such an evolved message of cooperation and reverence for the one as reflective of reverence for the whole that it makes me happy to know:
1) Someone thought it up in the first place
2) Someone saw fit to finance its production
3) Many are willing to see it, despite its absence of "traditional" violence and drama
Having established itself among the top films of the year, a final question remains:
Does The Martian have a chance of netting any granddaddy-of-all/prime time/national network-tracked Oscar nominations?
The Martian lacks violence, melodrama and any inclusion of hot-topic non-trad/cross-gender reference. The one rather the unnecessary nod to romance, the girl-guy visor smooch, did resolve eventually via the old-fashioned Le Bebe-Makes-Family motif, which though time-honored, is not buzz-worthy. I applaud the new and the edgy, including the super-hip artful, ironic violence of, say, that Mad Max remake or Tarantino's signature stylings, for all are conveyed through the Mankind-affirming medium of the Arts, where we can opt in to enjoy/dislike and interpret freely. But if The Martian, for all its stillwater delivery and "professorial" leanings, does net any Oscar nominations, I will watch on the sole hope of seeing it win something.