Coins vs. Tokens: Two different perspectives on new film “The Martian”



“The Martian” adds depth to genre

John “Coins” Keusenkothen


Ridley Scott is a science fiction veteran when it comes to the cinematic sphere of entertainment. His latest offering proves it. I am talking, of course, about “The Martian.”

Flying off the disastrous biblical epic that was “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” Ridley Scott propels himself forward with this new movie that has proven to be a success.

Out of all the mediocrity that has come out this summer, “The Martian” definitely shines as one of the strongest films this year. Its mix of logic and comedy shows that Ridley Scott will thrive once again against lesser sci-fi adaptations. Scott’s combination of wit, humor, and logically challenging dialogue provides moviegoers with a truly unique experience.

At first glance, one notices the vivid variety of characters in the story, and glossing over each one makes the two and a half hour run time go smoothly and quickly, embracing you at every twist and turn with great enjoyment and splendor.

Matt Damon as the lead was a brilliant choice, the feel-good tone of his dialogue gave the film a profound and almost philosophical feel, yet he still does what the main character should do and that is to make film easily relatable.

Matt Damon himself is certainly the highlight of the entire movie as it revolves around him surviving in the desolate and unforgiving environment that is Mars. Placing Damon in the vast and empty wasteland of the “red planet” provides the seasoned actor room to properly develop an interesting character, and allows the audience to feel as if they are right next to him, fighting for survival.

The idea of scarcity of resources always looms over the plot, providing reliable amounts of tension throughout the entirety of the film as Damon’s character struggles to survive.

Through these curve balls, Damon’s relatable character adjusts and rises to the occasions. I say relatable because, although Damon shows unique intelligence and intellect during this film, there are truly poignant moments of human weakness in which his acting prowess shines.

The government plot of finding ways to get him home ties in perfectly to life on Mars. The contrasts in these scenes are an attempt to raise curiosities about human behavior, done in an easy to understand format, with a cause-in-effect structure.

This is a monumental feat because the screenwriters blend the more complex science aspect with reality without either seeming out of place.

Because the plot develops through conversation, the movie displays an interestingly non-formal vibe for better understanding. It would be utterly unnecessary for the plot does not have to stop and start in fear of losing its audience.

Another thing to note about this film is the fact that as it progressively gets better, it turns from what could have been some clichéd story elements, and instead puts them in a different light, leading to some original content. Many people do not know that the film is actually an adaptation of the book by Andy Weir that goes by the same name, which, on its own, was a great piece of comic art and it translates perfectly into the film format.

This movie is one of the few cinematic undertakings that actually does the source material a large amount of justice. Not only was it translated perfectly from the book, but it did this with the novel’s vast and difficult premise.

Being an evenly paced movie, the film is filled with seamless swapping of story lines and the movie runs fluidly. “The Martian” is an excellent piece of cinematic history for anybody who is interested in space and a different and unique premise. Ridley Scott will without a doubt return to the top of the cinematic universe with this adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel. Positive Bias Rating 9/10


“The Martian” disappoints drastically

John “Tokens” Keusenkothen


People and critics have fallen for the Oscar bait once again. The 2015 movie, “The Martian,” is an adaptation, staring a talented cast, a basic premise, and was shown at a time perfect enough so it will be fresh in the voter’s minds when choosing the Oscars this year. The problems with the movie are actually quite vast.

Ridley Scott fans obviously went crazy over a fresh space movie, being the director of the fantastic sci-fi horror “Alien,” and the amazing “Blade Runner.” Sadly the full list of Scott’s cinematic epics has some pretty “epic” failures, and although this is not the case with this film, there are huge signs that he is simply losing his touch.

Character development is usually one of the most important aspects of storytelling. It helps that Matt Damon is a certainly enjoyable on-screen character, with a witty “Guardians of the Galaxy” like tone and those wicked jokes straight out of the 80s.

But despite Matt Damon’s great acting skills, it appeared as if they used leftover cuts for the final scenes in the movie. Even the sound track sounded a whole lot like leftovers to what could have been in that movie. What is wrong with Matt Damon’s performance, other than being optimistically bland and delightfully cookiecutter, is that he has no chemistry with his crew.

This crew, with the exception of Kate Mara, does nothing but stand as lifeless objects that simply move the plot around and make confusing inside jokes among each other. They really do nothing but push the story in circumstances that is hard to relate to.

The main plot is actually far worse, in execution. The government gets together to save one man’s life. There was the cliché guy who stepped up to the plate as “the boss”, and tried to say that the main character was a dead man, and proceeded to quit the mission. The crew seemed to not follow orders just to do something important later on in the movie. The plot was too predictable; there is not a single original concept.

Folks, this flick is an unoriginal sci-fi drama based on a book that has a quirky style and was directed by the man who brought you “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” I wonder if that description would get number one at the box office. Stay away if your looking for the next “Gravity” or “Interstellar.”

When I entered the theaters, my hopes were simply too high. Ridley Scott, the mastermind behind the cinematic epics such as “Alien”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Blade Runner” and tons of other instant classics, had his reputation precede him. But after I settled into my seat and waded through the credits, it became apparent that I was about to witness a flick that was on par with some of Scott’s other filmmaking tragedies, such as “A Good Year” and “Kingdom of Heaven”.

It was increasingly frustrating because the cast had so much potential. Matt Damon, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig and innumerable other famous actors filled every frame of this movie, but their chemistry simply did not work.

The talent in this film is comparable to that of a bad dish: just because you mix every delicious ingredient you can possibly conjure up does not mean that you are a chef. If you placed a crusted sirloin, fresh caviar, truffle soup, and an apple pie in a blender, you would not have a complete dish. That is the only thing I can seem to compare “The Martian” to: a blended dish of contemporary perfection that does not have any chemistry whatsoever.

More and more companies seem to be pursuing the realm of science fiction, and in particular the final frontier that is deep space. “Gravity”, “Interstellar”, the upcoming “Star Wars” sequels, and dozens of other films have injected life back into the space genre, but it seems The Martian feeds off of this hype in a desperate attempt for ticket sales.

All in all, the movie in its entirety seemed unbelievable and intangible. I would suggest that the avid fan watch this movie, but do so with an open mind. Negative Bias Rating 4/10

John Keusenkothen is a senior at St. Thomas and is the resident movie expert of The Eagle. Keusenkothen will answer any question about movies unless one asks him what his favorite is. His favorite holiday is National Nothing Day, (January 16th) and his favorite role model is himself. Approach with caution and possibly with chocolate milk.