Sunday, February 21, 2016

the martian

hello there


well, yes. there is a case, look you see, to say that - as would be usual - i am somewhat late to the party when it comes to offering a review, or just thoughts and comments, on the subject of the movie The Martian. it's highly likely that most who wish to see it have been able to do so already, whether at the cinema, or on disc like me, or indeed via one of them somewhat less than legal "download" things.

you never can tell, though - some may for some reason want to hear what i thought of it, whereas the occasional person reading this (thanks for doing so) might, many weeks, months or years into the future, be unaware of the fact that the film exists.

a quick, spoiler free review for those of you who do not want spoilers or are in a bit of a rush? certainly. it's very good indeed, both as in an adaptation of the novel and as a film in its own right. is it "best picture" entertainment at them award things coming up? not sure if it got nominated or not, but never mind - it's just a fascinating, entertaining idea and story in itself, it needs not awards to do this.

spoilers are perhaps unavoidable and thus likely after this first picture.



plot? it is the Earth's first manned mission to Mars. it's going really well, then a disaster strikes and an emergency evacuation is required. one of the astronauts, botanist Mark Watney, goes missing and is presumed dead. they then blast off without him. wouldn't you know he's actually, by a fluke and by chance, alive. alive and, of course, left alone on a planet.......

the story is, then, the ultimate in Robinson Crusoe / stranded stuff. Watney, played by America's favourite must be rescued or saved dude Matt Damon, has to decide whether to simply give up and be resigned to death, or to work out a way to not only live, but let Earth know he lives and see if they can't work out a way for him to get home. it's a slight spoiler, but yes, he chooses the latter, hence there being a story to tell.



what's with the images of The King, Elvis Presley with my blu ray of The Martian? i recently picked up a copy of That's The Way It Is, but more of that later.

the novel of The Martian, as per my review some two or so years ago, was one of the most entertaining things i had ever read. the narrative was brilliant and engaging. at one point i commented to my (considerably) better half that it's one of the funniest and most interesting things i've read, and yet the first 200 or so pages are little beyond farming - growing potatoes, specifically. which indicates the brilliance of the novel and its author, but always left me wondering how are they going to make this into an interesting film. well, they did.

i really don't want to get into that whole world of "book is better / worse than the film" stuff. it's a mess. i mean, clearly there are times when a film version is a disaster - Bonfire Of The Vanities, mostly - but for the most part they are two separate experiences of the same story. in this instance i was not disappointed in how the adaptation went, but we will get to that just now.

i recently got a bee in my bonnet, or if you like in my bomber hat, about watching That's The Way It Is once more. for those of you unaware of it, it's a note perfect look at The King, Elvis Presley as He prepares for His legendary gigs in Las Vegas, with of course plenty of footage of Him performing.

i could not find the box that has my most smart two disc version of it in, so i just bought a single disc copy of it off of one of them websites. yeah, i could have gone through more boxes, or i could have gone the route of one of them "download" things, but i didn't. for the sake of about £2 or so, it made sense just to get another proper copy for now.

so far i have had the disc on twice up to now. i've not been able to watch the whole thing from start to finish, but i have watched a fair few of my select favourite scenes. back in the way past, like many, many years ago, when i worked in a video store and we had stuff playing all day this was one of the films that i would have on quite often. it's smart to not only listen to The King, Elvis Presley performing his songs when He was arguably at His peak, but also the rehearsal and getting ready stuff is a lot of fun.

my most favourite bit? weirdly a very specifically remembered part, lasting only a few seconds, when The King, Elvis Presley decides to go for a tandem ride from one studio to the other.



have i tried to do a bit of video for this? in the absence of any footage off of The Martian to share here, why yes indeed i have, and if your browser supports it you can watch it below.


video

back to The Martian, then. one of the criticisms i read of the film adaptation was that they showed too much of the stuff away from Mars, as in the work on Earth to try and clock how to bring him home, and his chums on the space ship thingie that had left him behind. i found that this was not the case at all. it's not like much or any of that part of the story was extra or added to the novel, and it was in fairness vital to driving the story along. i suspect it's not the case that people found it to be "too much" of such scenes, but rather that a great deal of Watney's narrative had to be cut down.

it was, to me, not unreasonable what they cut down on. showing hours / days / weeks of Watney surviving would have been interesting but dull watching. for the sake of a streamlined narrative they also took it a lot easier on our left behind astronaut in the film, as at least two key sequences of peril were dropped from the novel. you wouldn't, i suspect, miss them if you didn't know about them to begin with.

oh, goodie, apple and blogger are fighting again, so this look at the back of the blu ray box, and indeed the slipcase, are rotated sideways. sorry.

what are the flaws or shortcomings of The Martian? well, not what you would think. space experts, such as Nasa and other such dorks, all reckon that how Watney survived - the actions he took, what he did and so on - are actually plausible, and there are very few instances of him doing something which would not work out in the way it was portrayed.

the biggest flaw, i suppose, is that Watney is a witty, intelligent, interesting and lively character that you cannot help but love. botanists, whilst important to the world, tend not to be this. they are dull and boring, and people who have so much as a single calorie of personality in their body are widely discouraged from wasting it on a life in which they are a botanist. no matter how plausible or realistic any of this is - assuming, of course, that one day we could actually get as far as Mars and come back - the audience still has to suspend all that they know of how the world really is and go along with the idea that, even if by fluke, a botanist is a really interesting sort of person, and one that you would on the whole care a great deal about.

on the practical levels, all is boss - great performances from all actors, even in the most minor parts, and this is Ridley Scott so you know it's expertly and superbly made. applause all around, then, for a job well done.

is the statement i am making here one of that i considered The Martian to be an excellent film, and one which is well worth the time of anyone to watch? yes i am. i haven't seen enough of the potential other claimants of this title so i couldn't really say whether or not this was the best film of last year, but if someone who had seen more than me said it was then i'd not argue with them.



be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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