Ever wonder what Home Alone would be like, only set in space??? Not really, but I’m damn happy someone shed light on this idea…
The Martian, starring the ever-so-talented Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Talented Mr. Ridley), follows the trials and tribulations of an underdog botanist left alone on Mars after a major storm gives his crew a reason to presume his death. But (insert Duh duh DAH! music here), Mark Watney is in fact alive and left all alone on Mars with no way back home. To steal the first line of the novel by Andy Weir: “He’s fucked.”
The Martian is Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Prometheus) at his most genius storytelling, pouring in plenty of scientific and astrophysics theories that so much blew my mind — and Tyson Neil Degrasse’s too — that the little nerd in me happily squirming in my seat (my Trekky mother would be proud she raised such a space-enthused daughter). The Martian also weaves some beautiful relationship dynamics between each of the characters, with even a few Lord of the Rings references. Of course that all makes sense, considering that Sean Bean, who infamously played Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring is also in this film. Boom.
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty), who played the captain of Watney’s ship, also brought along the Home Alone “mother relationship” to Damon’s character, which heightened the little butterflies in my stomach for… Well, I can’t give you the ending; you’ll have to wait and see. After a few laughs, great tragedies, lots of tears, and awesome astrophysical endeavors, The Martian is definitely a movie that will hold on its own this 2015. It left me with the hope and forward motion for our own space program.
But this Priestess possibly couldn’t leave our Face-Off without a few stirring questions of her own: What does the discovery of water on Mars really mean for us on Earth? When will us earthlings travel to Mars? And lastly, will Matt Damon meet Arnold Schwarzenegger and the three boob girl in the sequel?
“Brother” Myke Ladiona: There are those that may question Sicario‘s “geek” status and might be confused as to why we’re going to cover it on this site. I’ll point out to those people that the new Juarez centered, drug-war thriller has brought out the finest performances that Benicio ‘The Collector” Del Toro, Josh ‘Thanos” Brolin, and Emily ‘The Angel of Verdun” Blunt (from Edge of Tomorrow for you slackers) have had in awhile. Aside from the film’s all-star geek cast, Sicario also delivers plenty of thrilling, heightened moments of tension while still having something to say. The Divine One and myself had the chance to check out a screening of the film (that was followed by a Q&A with Del Toro last night), and decided that a film about two sides of one coin needed a two-man team to take down…
“Divine” Derek Vigent: I hear it all the time how people complain that movies are too fast these days. They don’t like all the quick editing and rapid-fire dialogue. Well, then I’ve got a film right here for all those folks! But first: can I get a Stone Cold “Hell Yeah!” if Sicario is nothing less but awesome? Hell mother fuckin’ Yeah!
The tension in this movie had me squirming in my seat like a televangelist at the Spearmint Rhino. The whole sequence of driving a military convoy in and out of Mexico to transport a prisoner was unbelievable. I think I caught myself as I stopped breathing. The cinematography had the viewer riding along on the vehicles with the soldiers. As they drive through looking at the rundown and dirty streets of the seedy city of Juarez, you can feel the dark underbelly just waiting for a moment to pull them down. The performances are also what acting and craft are made of. All the characters take their time with their lines, perfectly rolling them around in their mouths like they’re literally molding the words with their tongues.
All of their emotions are raw and brought on by tough and calculated decision making. Del Toro has his inner strength in full use, which nonetheless keeps a certain dark, ferocious anger in check from the death of his family by a drug lord. Blunt comes in as a woman who only plays by the rules, and throws her authority in the face of these soldiers every chance she can–although, at least half of the time, she is just laughed at. But even with all of the belittling by her male counterparts, she stands tall and shows very little signs that it will steer her away from fulfilling her dictated duties.
Myke: Taylor (Deputy Chief David Hale from Sons of Anarchy) Sheridan‘s screenplay seemed to work well in director Denis Villenueve‘s hands and allowed the director to use the tools he showed off in his criminally underrated Prisoners. According to Del Toro’s anecdotes during the Q&A, Villenueve worked closely with his actors to find the most honest portrayals of their perspective characters. Unrealistic monologues were given to other characters and decisions were run back and forth between everyone involved to make sure every moment felt realistic. In fact, because every character was succinctly fleshed out, when the movie switched perspectives from Emily Blunt to Del Toro in the last act there was no sense of detachment. Everything served the story.
The real icing on the cake, however, was the work done by all-star cinematographer Roger Deakins (Fargo, There Will Be Blood). Even in the dull deserts of Arizona, Deakins photography shined. The vibrancy of his shots perfectly complemented the harsh and unrelenting narrative, without resorting to over-stylized filters. It was just as stripped down and raw as the story.
Sicario is a prime example of a team of artists at the top of their game coming together to create the best version of what this movie could be. I only wish that this crew could come together and keep exploring this world, because they seem to be the best at it.
We both agree that this film deserves…