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Ramblings’ Not At The Movies: The Martian!

BRING HIM HOME! That’s what the movie’s hundred million dollar marketing campaign is demanding we do, as America’s sweetheart Matt Damon stares at us in his big-ass helmet, trapped way the hell up on Mars. And I agree. Get Matt home! How the heck did he get up there? Matt’s rich, but no so rich as to own a spaceship. Plus, Mars is a barren, airless, wasteland. We’re talking New Jersey in January. To answer this question, you could obviously see the move. Spend about $50 including sugary drink and snacks, plus parking, and whatever alcohol you sneak in strapped to your leg. But for me, I’d rather save my cash for my Fan Duel account – and no, it’s not gambling, it’s skill.

Spend lots of money on Fan Duel! And no, I am not a paid sponsor. Yet.
Spend lots of money on Fan Duel! And no, I am not a paid sponsor. Yet.

So why not see what is probably a really good movie? The answer is simple. I – and you – don’t need to see The Martian. Because I know Matt Damon movies. Matt don’t play superheroes, he doesn’t do porn, and he loves hogging up the screen with his toothy grin. Trap him alone on a planet and the plot is textbook. So let’s get into… The Martian!

Matt wandering away from his Palm Desert home.
Matt wandering away from his Palm Desert home.

My guess is the movie opens on Earth, pre-launch. We meet Matt and his soon to be dead crew, all excited because they are about to embark on a really costly, and utterly worthless mission to a dead planet. Nasa really should be shuttered, unless we actually start building Battlestars. But that’s another subject.

Why can't we build the Battlestar Pegasus? It really pisses me off!
Why can’t we build the Battlestar Pegasus? It really pisses me off!

Anyway, back on earth, we also meet a bunch of second tier actors who will not being going to Mars. Because Matt’s gonna need someone to talk to once the inevitable occurs in this predictable classic. Why? Because nobody wants to watch Matt Damon talk to a volleyball. Tom Hanks owns that market. Anyway, a quick perusal of IMDB indicates that the Nasa actors will be… Jessica Chastain. Okay, she’s kinda legit. Who else? Jeff Daniels. Right, the Newsroom was cancelled. And? Kristin Wiig?! Is SNL f-ing taking over the world? Why don’t we just add Andy Samberg, throw in a dose of Sandler, and let Lorne Michaels direct. Jeez, that is odd casting. Maybe Wiig dies up on Mars in Act One? But no, I saw on a commercial the rubber faced comic yucking it up on a space phone with Matt Damon while he grew hydroponic fungus in a space boot.

Kristen Wiig's character finding out that spaceman Matt Damon is trapped on Mars.
Kristen Wiig’s character finding out that spaceman Matt Damon is trapped on Mars.

So confused by this cast, but we need to move on. Back to the movie, we all know what happens. Matt lands up on Mars, probably as part of a “scientific” mission, because there’s so much science to be learned sitting in an aluminum spaceship on a dead planet covered in red dust. With him are some other lesser actors, but not Kristin Wiig. There is some life-ending problem – my guess horrible weather, even though not sure Mars has weather – which kills everyone but Matt Damon. How does he survive? He’s a superstar, that’s how. Matt was taking a dump. He brought an acid rain-proof umbrella. The point is, it doesn’t matter.  The movie is about Matt Damon being trapped on a planet, and locking down another Oscar. And now, as we end Act One, soon to be Oscar nominee Matt is alone… though he can conveniently talk to people back on Earth, otherwise the movie would be called Space Castaway. And who does he talk to? Jessica Chasten. Jeff Daniels. And Kristin Wiig… Who put her in this flick? Oh, right, Lorne Michael, the ruler of the universe.

Matt Damon emerging from the hole he was taking a dump in and realizing the lesser actors are all dead.
Matt Damon emerging from the hole he was taking a dump in and realizing the lesser actors are all dead.

Act Two. Matt Damon is alone on Mars. And facing all sorts of life-threatening problems, given the planet is lifeless and all of his equipment was bought on Amazon.com. But Matt perseveres, because he’s friggin’ Matt Damon. He’s so damn charming, and likeable. And in the movie, all the Earthbound lesser actors comes together to help him survive, teaching Matt how to make oxygen, a portable heater, and get the NFL Ticket so he can watch his cheating Patriots on Sunday.

Matt Damon calling earth to ask if they can send up Ben Affleck.
Matt Damon calling earth to ask if they can send up Ben Affleck.

And that is pretty much the movie. Matt learning how to do survival crap, including probably physical comedy, as I just realized why Kristin Wiig was cast. Don’t believe that’s all the movie is about? Just watch the commercial where Matt brags to the lesser earthbound actors that he’s the “best botanist” on Mars. Were you to actually see the movie, you’d be forced to endure many similar scenes, only substituting the word “botanist” with other professions. “I’m the best taxidermist on Mars,” following Matt stuffing one of his dead crewmates so he can have someone to watch the Red Sox with.

Matt Damon learning how to make mah jong tiles out of insulation.
Matt Damon learning how to make mahjong tiles out of insulation.

Which brings us to Act Three. How does the movie end? Does Matt live? Die a horrible, oxygen deprived death? Return to earth on a space glider made from his crew’s skin? Build cities on Mars, all modeled on Boston? I have no frackin’ clue. Didn’t see the movie. And once again, not important, because this movie is Matt’s homage to Tom Hanks, who has played this role a few times already. Just watch APOLLO 13. Tom Hanks, basically alone on a spaceship, constantly making repairs on his tiny ship. Or Tom Hanks in CASTAWAY. Or Tom Hanks in THE TERMINAL, once again, ALONE, yet incredibly charming. Do you see a pattern here, folks? Tom Hanks, beloved, likeable, lots of Academy Awards. Matt Damon, the same but younger, yet not so many Oscars.

Matt Damon mentor Tom Hanks trapped alone in another movie - back when he was young.
Matt Damon mentor Tom Hanks trapped alone in another movie – back when he was young.

Should we hate Matt for basically ripping off Tom Hanks career? Hell no. Tom Hanks is awesome, as is Matt Damon. And Matt’s gonna win an Oscar for this flick, cause Matt’s a hell of a good actor, even if his sports teams suck. And I bet The Martian movie is pretty damn good if you don’t like surprises. But not so good that I’m gonna tap into my Fan Duel account.

Matt Damon asking Nasa to connect him to Alex Rodriguez so he can tell him to "suck it."
Matt Damon asking Nasa to connect him to Alex Rodriguez so he can tell the Yankees to “suck it.”
About Marty 85 Articles

Hollywood screenwriter, reformed attorney and worshiper of the tiny princesses on Monster Island. Became a nerd as a child, thanks to lack of athletic ability, which turned me on to fantasy novels, scifi movies, and not having girlfriends. Favorite projects I’ve worked on as writer – adapting BBC SILK for the U.S., the Japanese anime BLACKJACK and currently my passion project, PANDORA. Soon to be a major comic book.

Contact: Website

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