The Martian

It’s been about a year and a bit since we saw Matt Damon on the screen and in a weird bit of deja vu, he was also stranded on a planet in the movie Interstellar as it happens. I am sure that he may have paused when considered taking on this movie but I am sure that the fact that Ridley Scott was the director helped. Film fans of course will not need to be reminded that Ridley directed Alien. But don’t worry there are no alien nasties in this movies.

Many movies take a bit of time to get out into space, The Martian however places us straight on Mars and the whole crew are placed into danger on the alien planet more or less straight away. Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney falls a little behind and in an insuing martian storm gets hit by a communication dish. The crew wrongly assume that Mark has been killed and to preserve the rest of the crew and the mission, they leave the martian surface and make the long journey home.

Mark however is injured but alive and wakes up to find himself stranded on the alien surface. Mark however after patching up his injury, resolves to in his words ” Science the s**t” out of his situation that he has been placed in. The story in essense is a modern reworking of Robinson Crusoe, a man stranded with no immediate hopes of rescue and resolved to fall back on his skills, which as it happens one of them happens to be botany which as it happens is quite helpful when you have limited rations to fall back on. Mark uses part of the martian living quarters as a growing room for potatoes, recipe suggestions welcome.

Throughout the movie we cut between Mark’s situation and NASA realising that they have left a man behind and how they might resolve to get their man back.

To tell you more might spoil the rest of the movie and what the crew and NASA resolve to do to rescue Mark. But there is lots NASA people hugging, crying and punching the air, so things eventually go everybody’s way.

One of my favourite things about the movie is the inspired choices of matching disco tunes to the situations that the movie presents, the end title choice being particularly inspired.

You will be have to be pretty out of sorts going into this movie to not come out of it with a warm glow, it is an inspiring story and shows what humans can do in the face of adversity, a must see. I for one would like Matt Damon in space with me for sure in any sticky space – related situation !!


Either someone in NASA PR is really good at their job or it is just one of those happy accidents. As this movie was due for release an announcement was made that water had been discovered on Mars. Well timed PR for the movie ?

Not the first time this has occurred either , around the time 2001 – A Space Odyssey was due for release a similar piece of earth shattering space news was released just prior to it’s release.

Interesting space fact there folks !!


A Walk In The Woods

Recovered from the emotional maelstrom that was Everest last week ? Looking a gentle stroll through the woods ?

Well if the second sounds more your speed, why not check out A Walk In The Woods. I had not expected much of this movie and it didn’t really disappoint. A gentle wander rather than a sprint out into the wild of America.

This is based on the book is based on the novel written by Bill Bryson, well known writer of the quirky and comic absurbities of daily life.

Bill Bryson is played by Robert Redford and that actor had originally penciled in his screenmate of many years Paul Newman to play alongside him. But as we all now Paul Newman is no longer with us and Nick Nolte has stepped into the hiking boots of Bill’s sort of long lost mate Katz. Katz is essence is the only one who replied to his request for a trip companion for an ill conceived journey along America’s Appalachian trail. All other requests had been politely declined,dismissed or given a very unpolite ” No ” . Even his English wife can’t dissuade him.

We see the two friends head out and encounter many strange and interesting things along the way, a limpet like travelling companion, people who point the error of their hiking equipment choices, two hikers who leap mountain goat like over the uneven rocks of a river, a jealous boyfriend of someone that Katz has taken a fancy to and a slighty over interested in Bill motel owner played by Mary Steenburgen. It is not over stating the case that Nick Nolte that is nearly more grizzly than the same named bears who decide to wander into their camp one night. This however makes for quite a loveable character of Katz.

Well it is quite a while into the journey that the two realise that this is no gentle Sunday afternoon stroll in the woods and Katz even goes as far as renting a hire car to shorten the journey, which as it happens in case you ever decide to tackle the Appalachian Trail is over 2000 miles long.

Their adventures are played for maximum effect and we enjoy watching these two travel mates comic adventures.

Well I don’t think that Robert Redford has to worry about an Oscar for this movie, but I for one enjoyed the story and it does not linger too long on screen. If you like the sound well why not check it out. A two and half stars movie rather than a four star one. But don’t let that put you off.


We’ll if the movie choices of the last two weeks teach you anything, it is the dangers of being unprepared when venturing out into the wilds. So take this on board and learn, after all you do not want to end up sound like the script to a horror movie !!


More often than not when you go to the cinema and finally sit in your seat, you will more than likely take off your coat, this might be one where you might need to leave it on. P.s might be advisable to also bring a few tissues with you as well.

This is not the first movie to go mountaineering – Cliffhanger, Vertical Limit and the start of Mission Impossible 2, all be it minus the snow and quite a few others that have escaped my mind at present.

So why make another one, well to paraphrase many a mountaineer when ask why they climb ” Because the story was there to be told “.

Our climbers after some altitude training head up Everest on the morning of May 10th 1996 to get to the top of the mountain as many climbers had done before. Jason Clarke plays the leader of the expedition Rob Hall and the cast is filled with many other well know movie stars, too many to mention here, the cast list is nearly as high as the mountain they seek to climb. Despite a few small hiccups as they climb up the mountain everything seems to be going well, all be it as well as getting to the top of mountain can go.

Well mountains being what they are the weather can change so quickly, and so it comes to pass with this movie. There is a storm coming in and the climbers do not follow the strict timetable they set themselves for getting up and down the mountain. They find themselves caught within the storm and slowly but surely the mountain takes it’s toll on some of the climbers.

This movie’s cinematography and sound is particularly impressive and as you move through the movie you feel that get some feel for what the climbers had to face.

One of the strongest performances comes from Emily Watson who plays Helen Wilton the teams base organiser, I did feel however that despite the big names of Keira Knightley who plays wife of Rob Hall and Robin Penn who plays Peach Weathers, the wife of one of the other climbers Beck Weathers ( Josh Brolin ) were underused and maybe a little bit more of them and their story may have added to the movie, but that is minor point in what otherwise is a strongly affecting movie. So if you are a fan of well told stories of human endurance then this movie is worthy of checking out, but as I mentioned before it might be worth checking your pockets before leaving the house those tissues will be certain to be used.


It is so important when telling a story about mountain climbing that you feel that the cast are facing ceratain danger, It is important that a filmaker spends a good part of the film’s budget getting this right. To not do this is to make the audience feel that they are being short changed and the cast are facing no greater danger than climbing up a climbing wall.

So don’t be tempted to CGI, green screen it or send your cast up a thinly disguised studio set, filmmakers. Spend a bit of time scouting out a real location, your movie will then have a genuine sense of danger to it.

American Ultra

What if Jason Bourne had long hair and smoked a narcotic substance and worked in a open all hours store ?

Such is the premise of the opening scene of American Ultra, only Mike Howell ( Jesse Eisenberg ) does not realise that he is actually a government assassin. He has frequent  panic attacks which his girlfriend Phoebe ( Kristen Stewart ) has to cope with but she loves him despite this anyway.

The government has decided however that their weapon has gone off the reservation so to speak and must be contained. His government handler played by Connie Britton appears one night at the store where he works and flicks the mental programming switch in his head, cue government assassin.

Now Mike and Phoebe spends the rest of the movie trying to dodge the government agents and hired guns that have been sent to track down and eliminate them.

This sounds like a great premise for a great movie but the result does not quite work out the way I am sure that filmmakers hoped it might. This is a shame as I think that this movie could have been so much better.

Just a word of warning if you are a not a fan of gory violence, the way that government people are dealt with may make you squirm in your cinema seat. Some have described this as a stoner comedy, not sure about that. While some of the scenes have some comedy in them, I for one did not laugh once. That’s not to say that this is a bad movie, just one that won’t linger long in the mind.

I can see what the filmmakers were trying to achieve, but it has been done better in many other movies that have come before it and maybe this premise in the action stakes at least might be better left to Mr Bourne.


Everybody likes a good spy movie, who wouldn’t want those cool gadgets that they possess. ¬†However in real life gadgets do not always behave themselves. I can see the scene now Mr Bond is caught in a life and death situation and his gadget decides not to work at the crucial moment. Do you think that Q branch would accept a receipt of purchase !!

Me, Earl And The Dying Girl

Hurrah movie fans, normal service has been resumed and I can bring my next movie review. Like the movie I reviewed a few weeks ago Paper Towns this movie is also based on a book.

We find our main character Greg ( Thomas Mann ) trying to fit in high school at the beginning of this movie, how does he do this. Well learn just enough about each clique in high school and their habits and make sure as you interact with each clique that the other cliques don’t see doing this.

Greg hangs with what he likes to call his co-worker Earl played by RJ Cyler, who Greg befriended when they both started playschool. Greg and Earl are into classic movies and spend most of their free time remaking those movies on a shoestring budget and putting their own personal twist on them, A Sockwork Orange and 9.45 Cowboy being two examples – movie fans will delight in guessing correctly the movies they are based on, I certainly did.

Well let’s move this story on a little bit, Greg arrives home one day and his mother lets him know that a girl at school has been just diagnosed with leukemia, she suggests that he go over and try and befriend her . Greg sort of knows this girl and is somewhat reluctant at first to do so, but goes anyway more to just please his mother.

He arrives at the door of Rachel played by Olivia Cooke and despite himself finds that he really starts to enjoy hanging with her and she after a bit of reluctance also enjoys hanging out with Greg and Earl.

There’s lots of comic moments in this movie and some quite touching ones as well, such is the nature of the story. Despite the subject matter it never goes too far in pushing the emotional button, this is not The Fault In Our Stars a movie from earlier on in the year, you may need to use a tissue after this movie, just not a whole box !! P.s won’t spoil the ending for you, but you will probably guess it anyway.

So if you are looking for a movie with comedy and an emotional heart, then this is the movie for you and with great performances from all the cast all round.


Why do some movies despite an emotional storyline seek to tie up the movie with a so – called happy ending, we are all smarter than that. Life more often than not is never like that, we certainly do get comedy but with that also comes a little tragedy. In fact it is often the comedy and seeing the lighter side of any situation that helps us deal with the tragic.

So, some moviemakers make sure to give us a more realistic ending to a movie every now any again, I for one come out a more satisified moviegoer if you do.

Are The Movies Any Good Any More ? Have Multiplexes Caused The Death Of Good Movies.

I did not find any movies this week worthy of review, so for this week only till normal service is resumed I will be talking about the cinema and the movies in them right now.

I think the rot may have set in quite a few years ago. Picture it, it is the 1980’s and the new boy on the block is the video cassette tape now consigned to the bargain bin of technology and probably gathering dust in your attic as we speak.

Well this now defunct technology caused a serious problem in the world of cinema, little cinemas with maybe one or two screens in every medium sized town started to close under the avalanche of VHS. Everybody now had a VHS tape player so why bother sitting in an old crumbling cinema whose golden era had passed when you could sit in the comfort of your own home.

This seemed to signal the death nell of cinema. But while it had been delivered a body blow it went away and rethought it’s packaging and enter the new improved multiplex offering imported from the United States. We all love shopping, so more often than not most multiplexes now are attached to a greater shopping experience.

This however has caused a problem I feel. Whereas once Hollywood only had to produce a few movies to satisfy the needs of the cinemas of the world. Now the average multiplex now contains no less than 5 screens and sometimes many more. This now means that many movies that have to be made to feed this monster. Movies used to spend many weeks, if not months in a cinema. Now most movies, if they are lucky live the high life on their opening weekend and maybe the following 2 weeks, after this space has to be made for the next offering to the cinema going public.

This is not to say that every movie that has come out recently is a dud, far from it. But I think that these jewels get lost in the multiple choices offered to us. Some are not even that lucky and get consigned to the arthouse or independent cinema circuit and never even get a sniff of being in the multiplexes.

If you have any interest in cinema and I asked you to tell me the movies that you had seen in the past few months, I would say you would struggle to remember most of them. They are a bit like the popcorn that is served in multplexes nowadays – packaged in a big colourful box and instantly forgotten once consumed. However if I asked you what movies are your favourite ones from 1 to 10 there would be a good chance that this list would contain movies that have been released pre 1990.

The financial figures for cinema are pretty good at the moment and audiences are quite healthy right now, but I seriously doubt that Pixels will be looked on with misty-eyed nostalgia with today’s youth in 10 or 15 years and will see them queue around the block to view a retro screening of it !!

Paper Towns

Having never read the book that this movie is based on I came to this movie fresh with no preconceptions of whether it would measure up against the book. This is not unique for me I am by nature a more visual person so when it comes to a choice of the story told by book or film, I tend to default to the movie, sorry authors and writers of the world.

There is a good chance that you will not have heard of any of the actors in this movie and I even myself could not name any movies they might have been in, previous to this movie. Cara Delevingne is probably going to be draw for most people to see how she does making the move from model to actor.

It is the plotline of many a John Hughes 80’s movie, the boy lives next to his neighbour the girl and his friendship with her of many years has changed to love. She of course is popular in high school and he is a shy young man who just has trouble expressing his love for her and worships her from afar, she needless to say has no idea that he feels that way about her.

The shy young man Quentin is played by actor Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne plays the part of Margo, the object of his obsession.

One night Margo appears at the window of Quentin’s bedroom and recruits him to go on a night of revenge pranks on Margo’s friends who she feels have wronged her. Quentin though timid at first eventually opens up to the possibilities that this night of pranks will give him and possibly get closer to Margo.

After the night of fun Quentin goes to school as normal but Margo does not appear and this does not change over the next few days. I am sure like me your mind will go intially to the storyline of many a murder mystery, this however is not that movie.

Quentin decides to follow a set of breadcrumbs left by Margo and ends up going on a cross country roadtrip to find the missing Margo. He recruits his friends into his little roadtrip and as often happens in roadtrip movies, it is less about the destination and more about what it takes to get there.

I won’t spoil the ending and whether they locate Margo but this is one of the better ones and I for one really enjoyed this movie and reminded me of many movies of my youth, a little montage I really enjoyed at the end of the movie took me back to a simular one in the iconic 80’s movie The Breakfast Club, no problem borrowing from a movie like that as long as you don’t do it scene for scene. A great little movie and worthy of making some time in your week to check it out.

In case you were wondering where the title of the book and movie was inspired by. Paper Towns is a trick used by mapmakers, create a non – existent town on your map and if you see this map reproduced anywhere you know that someone has copied it without your prior permission.


How do you shorten a trip on a map in the movies, well why not take a cue from Indiana Jones. Create a line on a map between the two points and superimpose your mode of transport onto the screen. Ah, if only we could do that in real life, goodbye jetlag. Sadly, unless someone has created a Star-Trek style transporter and is keeping it quiet, we will still have to keep taking those travel sickness tablets !!