To cleanse the palate, how excited you are for this flick depends, I guess, on how well you tolerate long stretches of exposure to Matt Damon. My personal tolerance is low, but the premise is sufficiently gripping that I may tough it out. If you’re into astronaut movies, accepting Damon and Jessica Chastain in the cast appears to be part of the price of admission nowadays.
I’m already dreading the thinkpieces about how this is a metaphor for climate change. Humanity stranded on an uninhabitable planet, desperate to rescue itself before time runs out — if Vox can make “Game of Thrones” an allegory about global warming, turning Damon into a symbol of progressive resolve against the elements should be no sweat. Apart from that, I’m intrigued by the casting of Kristen Wiig, not the sort of actor you’d expect in a sci-fi blockbuster about a harrowing rescue attempt in space. I wonder if the impulse there was that including a comedian might humanize the astronauts for the audience. I think that could have worked well for the Damon role. It’s hard to take seriously that the guy who played Will Hunting and Jason Bourne is in some sort of special danger by being stranded alone on Mars. It’s like casting Bond-era Sean Connery in a movie about a deserted island. Of course he’s going to survive. He’s going to survive easily because he’s a leading man whose most famous characters are hyper-competent to the point of genius. That’s his shtick. And that’s all wrong for a movie like this, where you want the audience to really feel the castaway’s vulnerability. You don’t cast Mr. A-List in this role, you cast a guy whom you can relate to. Ah well. Box-office economics are what they are.
They have an interesting marketing campaign, though, as you’ll see in the second clip below. That’s another way to try to humanize the cast.