Seth Lukas Hynes

Freelance Writer


October 2015

The Martian review


Who would have thought a film about an astronaut (Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon) stranded on Mars would be one of the most uplifting movies of the year?

In a year (more like a decade) of predominantly dark, dour blockbusters, The Martian is unique in how joyful and good-humoured it is.

Damon carries much of the film with his affable larrikin charisma alone. Watney makes frequent wisecracks about his desolate situation, but these are organic to the story as another way for him to stay alive and sane.

Watney must constantly deal with the sheer isolation and hazards of living on Mars, which maintains heavy suspense. But this naturally tense atmosphere has the added benefit of making every accomplishment – from Watney growing potatoes in Martian soil to rigging communication with Earth through the old Pathfinder rover – feel like a fist-pumping triumph.

The Martian isn’t just about perseverance and surviving against the odds; it’s an intimately personal yet solar system-spanning epic about human ingenuity, exploring a new frontier and Earth pooling its resources together to help someone in need.

The Martian is exciting, funny and wonderfully inspiring.

Let’s hope this film inspires us to actually, finally send manned missions to other worlds again.


Sicario and The Visit

We’re doubling up this time, covering Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit (you’ll see why).


The Visit is The Sixth Sense director Shyamalan’s attempt to restore his reputation after a long string of failures, and this low-budget horror film about two kids staying over with their estranged, increasingly creepy grandparents is a modest success.

The performances are engaging, the film has some amusing self-aware humor about filmmaking technique, and maintains an intensely eerie atmosphere.

The main problem with The Visit is that Shyamalan doesn’t pace his clues properly, in that some of the most disturbing moments happen too early, and you’re likely to figure out the big twist (something Shyamalan once had a gift for) rather quickly.

But overall, quite a decent horror movie.


But Sicario is a far better horror film without even trying to be.

This taut, expertly-directed thriller follows Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an elite SWAT agent taking part in a crackdown on the Columbian drug cartel.

With its unrelentingly grim tone, stark violence and confronting depictions of the extreme corruption on both sides of the War on Drugs, Sicario feels like a horror movie grounded in very real conflicts.

On top of that, the characters are riveting and multifaceted, and Roger Deacon’s cinematography is stunning.

The Visit is a fairly scary diversion, but Sicario ranks among the year’s best thrillers and horrors.

Everest review


Everest is a very well-crafted thriller based on tragic true events.

The film dramatizes the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which two teams of mountaineers faced deadly set-backs in their climb and descent.

This is one of those uncommon movies that is so solid, there’s relatively little to say about it.

Everest has simple but engaging characters, and the high-profile cast has enjoyable chemistry. Despite the thin air, the atmosphere is raw and riveting, and the location shoots and environmental effects are breathtaking.

The film covers the nitty-gritty details of surviving on the mountain, but keeps up a good pace and avoids feeling like an info-dump. This initial set-up, as the mountaineers acclimatise and learn of the risks, generates strong suspense, as you watch people you’ve come to like struggling and succumbing later on in the harsh conditions.

Moreover, Everest depicts the title mountain as perilous and unpredictable without resorting to the all-too-common disaster cliché of presenting it like a living creature.

Beck Weathers (played in the film by Josh Brolin), a lucky survivor of the expedition, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that Everest ‘basically runs me over’ and ’emotionally… takes me apart’. This suggests a high level of authenticity in Everest‘s retelling of his harrowing experience.

Everest marks a high peak in the quality of recent Hollywood productions.

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