Wow, that was a fun experience. I caught myself smiling several times in this action-adventure sci-fi rescue NASA-recruitment commercial. Funny as heck too.
I had third row tickets on an AVX screen so I was sure between the terrible seats and the casting of Matt Damon, I was going to have a terrible time. I ended up loving it, which speaks volumes to the quality and execution of this film. Before the film, I was leading the charge against the casting of Damon here this soon after Interstellar. I can freely admit I was mistaken in this case. I actually didn't even see the character as Matt Damon ever in this film, which speaks to the actor's quality and range. To me, it was always this stranded botanist, not some frustrated astronaut itching to get into a fist fight.
Try not to groan at an early scene of when Damon gets undressed and you see he's totally ripped. At first I thought this was as unecessary as Weaver's crotch shot in Alien or Alice Eve's Into Darkness underoos. But it actually is setting up context for later, so my bad.
The storytelling is really masterfully done, especially when all the various players and components are working in tandem towards one common goal, and the film just keeps cutting from one to another in quick succession. Those scenes are just really happy sequences and you can't help but get caught up in the excitement.
The one knock, and I think it's a major one, is the soundtrack. I felt like the film was trying really hard to have a Guardians of the Galaxy-feel, but it just doesn't happen (or didn't for me), and felt forced way too many times. Also, it made me miss Gravity once in a major way. I can think of one scene that added nothing that I would have cut to avoid losing the audience.
The film's biggest accomplishment is that it becomes as nail-biting intense as Apollo 13 except one of them happened and the other did not. For fiction to be this white-knuckled exciting, it's a mark of a successful screenplay.
Overall, it's an excellent film and a total joy to watch on the big screen. I highly recommend it. It was just fine in 3D as well, I didn't mind it at all and many scenes were enhanced in good ways because of it. I'm a big Ridley Scott fan and I'm glad to see him find such solid footing here.
Will Sean Bean die in this one? You'll have to go find out and see for yourself!
Heart rating: 4.5 stars
Brain rating: 4 stars