TLDNW: The Martian

We’re all aware of the phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) for posts on the Internet. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2016 Oscar-nominated movies so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review, because frankly most people are lazy.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

TLDNW: 1 Word

4/4

Spectacular

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★★★/★★★★

Watch Matt Damon as you’ve seen him before… It’s Matt Damon as Matt Damon in “Matt Damon: Another Rescue Mission”.

TLDNW: 500 Words

Four out of Four Stars

Despite what I said in my biting 20-word review, The Martian is fantastic. Ridley Scott continues to prove himself as the least consistent director in Hollywood. Let’s take a tally shall we?

Great Terrible
The Martian His Golden Globe Speech
Body of Lies Exodus: Gods and Kings
American Gangster The Counselor
Black Hawk Down Prometheus (I love it, but it’s widely hated)
Gladiator A Good Year
G.I. Jane (Everyone hated it, but I love it so shut up.) Robin Hood
Thelma and Louise Hannibal
Blade Runner A bunch of other deeply forgettable movies, does anyone remember White Squall? Yeah, me neither
Alien His comments on race in movies

What does this list prove? First of all, it proves that G.I. Jane is a masterpiece and that’s that. But it also shows that Ridley Scott is really inconstant. Thus, my conclusion – it is not Ridley Scott that defines whether or not a movie is good, it’s the supporting circumstances that shape how well a movie is received. Clearly, Scott knows how to direct a film. Even a movie as terrible as Exodus: Gods and Kings is well shot and well directed. So, we can rule out bad directing and instead lean on other circumstances.

The Martian is one of those rare circumstances where everything works. Matt Damon, for all the flack he gets, is fantastic in the film. He delivers the right amount of charm and wit, which is ever-present in the novel (which I’m deeply into right now). The supporting cast is stellar (see what I did there – a space pun), and the story is fantastic.

So let’s do the math: Matt Damon at his best + an incredible supporting cast + a story based on a universally-loved novel + really tight sound mixing and editing + great visual effects – an inconstant director = a great film. Even Ridley Scott’s often misguided hand cannot shift how well put together The Martian is.

It seems we are in an age of space epics. For the past three years a space movie has dominated the box office. Gravity, Interstellar and now, The Martian are all well-received, excellent movies about space. Let’s exclude Star Trek, Star Wars and superhero movies for a minute and really look at these three films. They are all beautifully cohesive epics with almost nothing in common, except for space. All three of them work on such individual levels that they can be on the same list without competing with each other.

Gravity, despite its scientific flaws (which is a blog post for another day), is incredibly beautiful thanks to director Alfonso Cuarón. Gravity’s appeal lies in its simplicity. The film is so much more about exploring her human tenacity than it is about space. It’s one woman’s struggle to survive – a desert island movie in the sky.

Interstellar works on a completely different level. Where Gravity relies on simplicity, Interstellar relies on complexity. Helmed, of course, by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar does not shy away from a heady concept, and roots this concept in human emotion. Weighing in at almost 3 hours (compared to Gravity’s tight 91 minutes), Interstellar is more about exploring our future than it is about survival.

The Martian sits in a very happy medium. It’s truly about one man’s survival but allows itself to be grandiose as well. It’s a rare film that can be incredibly entertaining while also adhering to excellent filmmaking. Sure, Ridley Scott is hit or miss – but The Martian delivers big time.

Click here to check out the rest of Spencer’s TLDNW reviews.

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