‘The Martian’ Is One Of The Year’s Best Movies

Remember that perplexing scene in “Interstellar” when Matt Damon pops up and tries to kill Matthew McConaughey so he can return to Earth? The one that, as the Internet gladly pointed out last year, was rife with plot holes and silly space fisticuffs? I’d like to think that Damon saw his bit in the Christopher Nolan film, rolled his eyes and said, “The moviegoing world deserves better. Let’s do better.”

Enter “The Martian.” It started as a popular debut novel by Andy Weir, but the movie could have easily gone south: Sci-fi maestro Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner”) hadn’t made a great film since 2007’s “American Gangster,” and this lofty yarn was green-lit under the shadow of the technologically groundbreaking “Gravity” and Nolan’s aforementioned space-time epic. But the Damon comeuppance that I’ve concocted in my imagination is quite applicable indeed, because “The Martian” is phenomenal.

Having premiered at the ongoing Toronto Film Festival ahead of its Oct. 2 release, “The Martian” is a populist sci-fi adventure that clocks in at more than two hours yet flies by. It’s like the film operates at zero gravity — it’s nerdy if you want it to be, but there is nothing fussy or ornate to weigh it down. As a survival story about about Mark Whatley (Damon), an astronaut stranded on Mars after his crew flees a windstorm, it is a witty character piece brimming with humor. As an interplanetary adventure about the NASA team coordinating Mark’s rescue and the botany and engineering skills he administers to stay alive, it is a thrill ride about a resourceful guy who “sciences the shit out of” a terrifying predicament. But scientific minutiae is not the movie’s m.o., however technical the jargon is at —> Read More