Based on the book that made geeking out about NASA widely socially acceptable, The Martian is the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut stuck on Mars, and his fight for survival.
Within the opening shots of The Martian, it becomes clear Ridley Scott has still got it, and if there is one good to come out of his last venture the largely uninspiring Prometheus, it’s cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and a large visual effects team, who are going to make you fall in love with space. Again. It’s not quite Gravity, but its close.
The Martian looks good, but what’s more important is that Scott knew when to leave well enough alone and when to reign the tech-talk in that is prevalent throughout the book and which could hamper the enjoyment of visual storytelling through too much dialogue, or in Watney’s case, monologue.
The unlikely humour that is so in defiance of the usual survival narrative, remained completely intact. Played by Matt Damon, who is believable both as cheeky boy next door and capable botanist, has most of the stage to himself, which is a shame for the rest of a cast full of big names, such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kirsten Wiig and Jeff Daniels as NASA executives and Watney’s former Mars crew including his commanding officer Lewis (Jessica Chastain).
The Martian is another sci-fi film sans action, but what makes it good is the excitement builds through likable characters.
Within minutes of knowing him, viewers will want him to succeed, even when the film occasionally makes the rescue of one man into a bigger event than it would probably be with media and the public.
The Martian proves that you can make scientifically accurate films without having to go off on a tangent. It is certainly simpler sci-fi, with entertainment written all in capitals, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want, especially if behind all of it lurks a big heart.
The Martian holds back on the drama and makes venturing into space, even involuntarily, surprising amounts of fun. Damon is excellent.
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels
Running Time: 144 min
Release Date: 30 September 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5