Setting films on Mars can be a bit of a gamble - just ask Red Planet, Mission to Mars and John Carter - but from the sounds of things, Ridley Scott's latest foray into science fiction, The Martian, may have broken the curse.
The first reviews for the 'Robin Crusoe in Space' thriller are in and as you'd expect from the master of science fiction, they're pretty good.
Check out The Martian trailer below:
Currently, The Martian, which stars Matt Damon as a NASA astronaut stranded on the surface of Mars, has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96% with only one negative review out of the 28 reviews gathered by the aggregating site. Here are some of the major reviews in short:
Variety's Peter Debruge congratulated the film on its 'rigorous realism', adding the film will likely inspire many young audience members to become interested in space exploration, stating
Like Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Damon’s “right stuff” hero has to get by on his own wits and “science the sh–” out of his predicament. It won’t be easy, but it is possible — and that’s the exhilarating thrill of both Andy Weir’s speculative-fiction novel and screenwriter Drew Goddard’s “science fact” adaptation. Considering that the United States hasn’t launched a manned space mission since 2011, “The Martian” should do far more than just make Fox a ton of money; it could conceivably rekindle interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of future astronauts.
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter singled out Damon's performance, which is particularly important considering he spends a long time on screen alone. He also pointed out that The Martian is surprisingly funny, thanks in part to Damon's character, Mark. He explains:
In significant measure due to his character’s mordant humor, which Goddard has slightly amplified from the book, Damon provides comfortable company during the long stretches when he’s onscreen alone, and the actor’s physicality makes Mark’s capability entirely credible.
Although Scott Tobias of GQ accepts The Martian isn't quite as much of a technical marvel as Gravity - a film which is consistently referenced as a comparison in reviews - he concludes that ultimately it delivers a more satisfying story, with Damon's character's resourcefulness and 'McGuyvering' framing the narrative. Indeed, he claims The Martian is the 'Ultimate Nerd Triumph', adding:
The Martian is less a coup de cinema than Gravity, which jettisons through open space with swooping 720-degree camera moves, but it’s a triumph of another kind, an ode to problem-solving and sticktuitiveness.
Many reviews also single out Scott's direction, with some claiming it is a return to form after several relatively lukewarm received projects, such as Prometheus and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Lou Lumenick, of the New York Post, calls The Martian an 'unpretentious popcorn classic' adding it is "the best thing that either Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott have done in years", while Tina Hassannia of Movie Mezzanine described it as the most "fantastical film he's ever made".
Of course, in the interest of balance, we should also point out the one negative review, which comes from Little White Lies' David Jenkins. He claims those of a less "less wide-eyed/affirmative disposition" may find The Martian is a relatively shallow spectacle devoid of deeper meaning, concluding:
Yet, it's not about anything at all. It has nothing to say. No statements to make. Not about our place in the solar system, not about the fragility of the human body, not about how humans are hard-wired for self-preservation, not about collective versus individual endeavour, not about why it's important that we visit other planets.
At this juncture, this review is special primarily because it is the only negative review.