The Martian

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During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

The Martian, like other recent space films such as Gravity and Interstellar, manages to exceed expectations and bring in tons of fun, character, and suspense. Although the marketing may have made it loom to similar to Gravity and Interstellar, it differs vastly with its plot, setting, tone, and overall theme. Matt Damon is excellent in the lead role. He is very charming, funny, and determined to survive. He is written very well, and when the stakes are very high and you know he might not survive, you are brought to high suspense. Jessica Chastain, like always, is badass and powerful in her role. Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sean Bean are also great as a few NASA operatives down on Earth. Everyone else, including Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Michael Pena are great as some Ares 3 crew members.

The directing by Ridley Scott is perfect. Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors, and has directed some of my favortie movies (including Gladiator), but lately hasn’t been at his best, considering how terrible Robin Hood (2010) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) were. The Martian is a fantastic return for him, and allowed me to regain my faith in his contemporary work, and films of his that are yet to come. Scott focuses the film exactly where it should be (mainly Watney’s survival attempts on Mars, and NASA/the Ares 3 crew’s attempts to rescue him) when it is supposed to be focused on that aspect of the plot. Although the film is nearly 2 and a half hours, the length feels perfect and stretched well. The movie, unlike other recent space films, focuses much less on the visual effects and more on the plot, which in this case is done terrifically, but the visuals are still beautiful when you look at them. The film’s plot is thrilling, exciting, and always entertaining, never dragging or feeling rushed. The writing is great, as it constantly includes tons of humor, and doesn’t take itself too seriously at times. By the climax of the film, I was so thrilled and on the edge of my seat, and when the movie was over, I had a smile on my face because of how fun and awesome this movie was.

The Martian is a great return for Ridley Scott, with fantastic performances, directing, writing, visuals, cinematography, story, and suspense. The Martian is the best movie I have seen all year, is a definite must-see for ages 12-13 and up, and will leave you thrilled, and on the edge of your seat.

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Ant-Man

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The next movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally brings Ant-Man to the screen. Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

As Marvel begins to enter a darker phase of films, with films such as Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War coming out, it’s starting to adapt to a very likable new style, with tons of unpredictable humor being thrown into their movies. Ant-Man is able to partly convey it, but is a letdown considering the fact that its from Marvel Studios. Paul Rudd is a superb star, as he coveys all the humor and heart I wanted from him. Michael Douglas gives a decent performance as mentor Hank Pym. I was let down by Evangeline Lily and Corey Stoll. I was expecting a deeper and more emotional character from Lily, and a villain that was more incorporated into the script and convincing enough from Stoll. Michael Pena is able to deliver a charming performance as one of Lang’s buddies, and Bobby Cannavale does an awful job, not to anyone’s surprise.

The style the film takes on is fun, but doesn’t fulfill the story’s needs and character developments. The subplot involving Scott’s relationship and connection with his daughter (and his hatred of his ex-wife’s new fiance, who also happens to be a cop played by Bobby Cannavale) is extremely cliche and has been used hundreds of times in the past decade in cinema. Same with Scott’s training to become Ant-Man, it’s not anything we haven’t seen before or wouldn’t see coming. The dialogue needs a lot of improvement, with too much awkward dialogue and things that kept repeating themselves. I never felt so close to the characters, since they aren’t given enough time to connect with the audience, because the movie is way too rushed, not to mention it’s very short, with a run-time of only 115 minutes. However, the film still keeps the humor from its preceding Marvel movies, and does not fail to entertain. The movie even has a few callbacks to the Avengers to remind you that it’s a Marvel movie, and a post-credit scene worth staying for.

Overall, I was let down by Ant-Man due to its lack of convincing character development, its run-time, and its script, but it is still able to entertain and make you laugh. The film would’ve been much better with Edgar Wright sitting in the director’s chair. Moving forward, I have faith in Marvel that they will do a great job with Phase Three, but I was disappointed with Ant-Man, as it’s meant to be a more moving finale to Phase 2.

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