The Martian was my favorite book of 2014, so when it quickly was turned around into a huge movie the following year, I was a little nervous they could get it right. Especially so, because Ridley Scott, who used to be one of the most dependable directors in Hollywood, was helming it and was riding a decade long dry spell. Fortunately Scott was able to summon up a final science fiction masterpiece (no, I don’t hold out any hope for further ones) aided by perhaps the performance of Matt Damon’s career, an amazing ensemble cast, and fundamentally awesome source material (you can read my full review here).
One of the reasons that the story of Damon’s botanist, stranded on the Red Planet when his crew thinks him dead and leaves him behind, works so well is that it is 1) grounded in science and 2) as filled with funny moments as the novel is. Damon doesn’t have to quite do the amount of solo camera time that Tom Hanks did in Cast Away, but this is probably the closest to that feat that any other actor has come. Like Hanks did with Wilson (the greatest prop in movie history), Damon uses his logs to come up for an excuse for essentially breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. My favorite of these log rants begins with Damon using Vicodin as a condiment and ends with a convoluted explanation of how Mars now belongs to him under maritime law and that he is, in fact, a space pirate.
By the way, Andy Weir’s second novel (Artemis) hasn’t even been released yet and has been snapped up by a studio with The LEGO Movie team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller attached to direct.
Each Thursday we look at what is going to be coming out in theaters this weekend, show you the trailers for the big releases, predict the box office winner and just generally give you enough of a carrot to pull you through the rest of the work week. March 18th has four new releases, but your best bet for quality entertainment is probably to stay home and boot up Netflix. Continue reading In Theaters This Week (3/18/2016) – Daredevil, Divergent, and More!
Biopics are a tough nut to crack. How can you, in 2-3 hours give an accurate portrayal of the life of a person and events through which they lived? When that person is as maddeningly complex as former Apple CEO and tech visionary Steve Jobs and you’re adapting Walter Isaacson’s 800 page biography, the task proves even more daunting. Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) and LORD OF THE SCREENWRITERS Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network, 84 Other Awesome Things) pick a brilliant framing device for their examination of Jobs and what results is not only one of the best pictures of a 2015 that is shaping up to be a fantastic movie year, but one of the best biopics I’ve ever seen. Continue reading Movie Review: Steve Jobs (2015) *Fassbender & Boyle Deliver One of the Best Biopics Ever*
I’m a space geek. Some people think NASA and space exploration is an ungodly waste of time and money and I’m one of those people who think those people are an ungodly waste of time and money (I’ll let that settle). The Martian by Andy Weir was 2014’s best book, fantastic science fiction and I have been vocally concerned at its rush to the screen by Ridley Scott. Ridley, long one of my favorite directors, hasn’t connected in about a decade, so even with favorable reviews, I went in a little nervous. No need. This is Scott’s best picture since 2001’s Black Hawk Down, one of the best science fiction films in recent memory and one of the best films of 2015. Continue reading Movie Review: The Martian (2015) *Ridley Gets It Right!*
Aaron Sorkin has literally never written anything I didn’t like, nay, love. I just finished his play, The Farnsworth Invention, about the battle between Philo T. Pharnsworth and David Sarnoff about who would patent the television first. Really fascinating read. One of Sorkin’s best abilities as a writer is to take a fantastically huge and complex mound of information and boil it down into a bite-sized hunk. Charlie Wilson’s War was a near-500 page book and the movie is a little over 90 minutes. The substance was absolutely conveyed, and if you’ve never read or watched CWW, you’ll understand a lot more about the current world situation and how the Law of Unintended Consequences ended up leading us to 9/11.
Steve Jobs is an enigmatic, flawed, undeniable genius. Michael Fassbender is one of the best actors without an Oscar. From what I’ve seen (and the trailers have been very sparse on substance), Jobs could get a biopic for the ages and Fassbender could stake an early claim on this year’s Best Actor. Steve Jobs opens against stiff competition in Pan and Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk on October 9th.