Cert: 12A Runtime: 141 mins Director: Ridley Scott Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels
I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this
Since Prometheus I haven’t enjoyed a Ridley Scott film very much. The Martian’s initial feedback have been positive and great praise for Ridley Scott. We have had a few strong space movies as of late that being Gravity and Interstellar. The Martian is the latest of the space disaster/survival movies. So what is The Martian about? When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.The Martian is a good return to form for Ridley Scott. It’s a great looking film,very easy on the eye. Scott does sci-fi very well and The Martian is up there. First of all the 70s music is apparently faithful to references in the novel and is surprisingly enjoyable, and the sound design throughout is great. The picture is vibrant and pin sharp with some superb cinematography – a couple of shots of the earth seen from space easily rival the spectacular images in Gravity.Matt Damon is extremely likeable in the lead role but this is as much an ensemble piece in my book as much as it’s a spotlight for Damon.
The film is littered with sparkling performances from a very talented cast. Everyone else gives a good supporting role. Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor are two prime examples of a job well done.So I guess you’re waiting for the but? Just a few minor quibbles.The run time is far too long here it could have been easily cut buy twenty minutes. But Ridley Scott only makes long movies I guess The writing is great overall and the script is highly competent. But under close scrutiny, there are a couple of flat spots and at the other extreme, a couple of moments of jeopardy that feel forced. I don’t know how reading the book compares, but on screen these moments smack of someone arbitrarily throwing in some danger to keep the plot going and the tension high. The moments in question just didn’t feel organic enough for me, so as a result, I was jerked out of the film a bit and not fully invested in the scenes that immediately followed. I’m sure other people wouldn’t be quite so critical, but I personally wasn’t as lost in the story as I wanted to be. I’d probably rate Gravity a little higher in that respect and also in regard to its emotional punch.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 100 mins Director: Josh Trank Cast: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B.Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell and Reg E. Cathey
Victor, stop! We are not gods, just people. And we are stronger together than we are apart
Slightly late to the party I know but I did want to let the dust settle before I watched Fantastic Four. This is by far the most slammed film since Daredevil in the early 00’s. I am a fan of the 2000’s movies it was funny and didn’t try to be ambitious. This was a step Fox approached with Trank’s film he was the right choice in my opinion. But whatever happened off camera was a shame. So what is Fantastic Four about? Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) becomes Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch and twist his body at will, while pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) gains immense strength as the Thing. Johnny Storm (Michael B.Jordan) becomes the Human Torch, able to control and project fire, while his sister Sue (Kate Mara) becomes the Invisible Woman. Together, the team must harness their new abilities to prevent Doctor Doom (Toby Kebbell) from destroying the Earth.
Taking its time Trank’s offering spends the whole of its running time as an origin story about friendship, war policies and morales with only the last ten minutes to deal with their adversary, Doom. Due to the unorthodox story structure it comes to an abrupt end. Also oddly Fantastic’s tone feels more DC than Marvel.Kate Mara is notable as The Invisible Woman. Jamie Bell’s performance as The Thing in the latter half is by design hidden by the effects. Toby Kebbell is excellent but his screen time is limited with the rest of the cast being effective in their respective roles.The music by Marco Beltrami Philip Glass score is exceedingly ominous and compliment the great effects, sterile sets, costume design and performances as they harness their powers.Arguably all the recent superhero adaptations attempts while entertaining never seem to capture their subject matter spirit faithfully coming across as bloated, soulless money makers which try to cash in by appeasing adult fans at the expense of younger children which doesn’t always mix and this is no exception. That said, if a slow burning, brooding re-imagining is your thing then this delivers exactly that and to its credit debatably more edgier than its paint by numbers same universe contemporaries despite an anticlimactic rushed showdown.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 94 mins Director: Danny Boyle Cast: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Burton
I’m in pretty deep doodoo here
So 127 Hours a film that a lot of people didn’t want to see because of one thing (I guess you know what I am talking about) Yet again Boyle was nominated for a few Oscars, but didn’t succeed this time. 127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he can be rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the two hikers he met before his accident. Will they be the last two people he ever had the chance to meet?Although undeniably amazing, the story of Aron Ralston isn’t something that strikes you as ripe for cinematic treatment. It’s more the sort of yarn suited to a half hour documentary, seeing as the action is stuck in the one place for five days. It’s a marvel then – although not overly surprising – that Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, director and writer respectively of the phenomenal Slumdog Millionaire, have eked out a worthy story that capably fits the feature film format. They’ve developed the premise to focus more on the mentality of Ralston during his suffering. He cycled through a gamut of emotions – regret, despair, acceptance, anger, frustration, embarrassment – and how Boyle presents these is definitely left of centre, but all the more intriguing for it. The use of flashbacks and dream segments are often lazily used to convey a character’s thoughts, although they’re still a damn fine narrative tool if you use them correctly and Boyle wonderfully segues in and out of these sequences as if they were an extension of the present action.
Some of Ralston’s delirium-fuelled moments are cringe-worthy and humiliating, but Boyle doesn’t shoot them with a rose coloured lens. What you see is an authentic depiction of how this man (re)acted to the gradual realisation these were his last days on earth. When you’re on your own with no hope of surviving, why concern yourself with something trivial like how you might look if there was ever a movie made about you? Well, Ralston didn’t and Boyle respected that. Subsequently we, the audience, have been privy to something we weren’t supposed to see, and there is something very fascinating about that. Cillian Murphy was originally planned to play the doomed adventurer, and though I’m sure he would’ve been great, it’s now hard to imagine anyone other than James Franco in the role. The real Ralston had never allowed anyone outside of his own family and friends to see the camcorder footage he shot over those harrowing 127 hours, until he permitted both Franco and Boyle to watch it. This private screening must’ve been invaluable to Franco especially; his portrayal is carefully layered and well thought out. Franco slots into the “everyman” mould with ease and offers a quirky side to Ralston without ever being overtly quirky. Franco thoroughly deserved his Oscar nomination and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him come future awards seasons.An ordinary man placed in an extraordinary situation is compelling viewing thanks to Boyle’s masterful direction and Franco’s powerful performance.