John Madden’s political thriller Miss Sloane is a contrived sledgehammer of a film. It navigates a complex subject matter from the top of a soapbox, spouting ersatz-Sorkin dialogue at the top of its lungs. Its near-infallible central character is always the smartest person in the room, except when she’s saved by the latest in a long line of plot conveniences. And though the film is stocked with talented actors, they often struggle to elevate the mediocre writing above the superficiality of a PolySci 101 term paper on the second amendment. Miss Sloane delights in its own cleverness and “message”, but seems to have considered making a film a secondary concern.
It is remiss to classify The Martian as “Ridley Scott’s” or “Matt Damon’s” or with any other possessive; it is a true ensemble film. Though the story begins in serious medias res with the crew of the Ares III mission escaping a Martian dust storm and leaving Matt Damon’s Mark Watney behind on the red planet, this is not Cast Away where we dwell on our lone character for the majority of the runtime. The success of the narrative and the impact of the theme require that seemingly infinite characters aid in Watney’s survival, but also that Watney himself is capable of titanic intellectual feats. What results is a film dictating that the strength of humanity is found in the reasoning mind – from an isolated individual struggling to survive to large teams working towards effecting a rescue.
Last week we only had a few stills from Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the Andy Weir novel The Martian, but we have started this week off with a bang, receiving not only a neat little viral marketing video, but also a full-length trailer spanning three-and-a-half minutes! Clearly, the marketing department for this flick has decided to hit the ground running, so let’s go ahead and try to keep up. The story is described as Apollo 13 meets Cast Away: astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars and has to improvise to both contact NASA to effect a rescue mission, and then survive for the requisite time it will take for the rescuers to arrive.