The New York Film Festival is underway and two of the biggest commercial titles of the fall are in its lineup. (They also happen to be opening this week). Neither of these lives up to the hype, though I recognize that will be a distinctly minority opinion.
The Martian: The films of Sir Ridley Scott are an extremely mixed bag but they are consistent in one regard -- they value visuals over all else.
So it is with The Martian, a film that should be more exciting than it is. The novel by Andy Weir was hardly great literature but it created greater tension than Scott's film manages.
Matt Damon is Mark Watney, an astronaut left behind on Mars by crewmates, who were evacuating the planet because of a deadly sandstorm. Watney, struck by flying debris blown loose from their habitat, is assumed to be dead. Except he's not.
So the film focuses on the frantic efforts on Earth to get Mark back alive, even as he does his own Robinson Crusoe thing on Mars. The obvious reference points are Apollo 13 and Gravity, though this film cannot compare.
This review continues on my website.