Ridley Scott once commented, “I’m one of those people who find the real world of no particular interest.” A master of narrative and genre filmaking at its purest, Scott’s latest blockbuster is a classic tale of man overcoming the elements, in a career that has been compunded with erratic greatness, The Martian will go down as one of his best. Though modern audiences will need patience, the film is largely devoid of violence, and refuses to treat its audience as morons.
Like the great masters of old and older Hollywood, Spielberg, Cameron, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Ford and Curtiz, Scott constructs a world through his ability to coral the creative troups and build a story. Most directors these days from the Michael Bay school of artiface, ignore these techniques infavour of the next action set-up. Ironically Scott for much of his early career was catergorized a stylistic superficial commercial ditrector. In this film, the troops he’s deployed include visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers, cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, Production designer Arthur Max, Editor Pietro Scalia, and an ensemble of fine actors, headed by Matt Damon.
Scott’s is a great survivalist whose career goes in waves, the fist wave included the masterworks, Alien, Blade Runner and Thelma and Louise, then Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, and now a return to form after the disapointing Exodus: Gods and Kings and Prometheus comes The Martian. Scott reasserts himself as a major popular filmaker, at age 78 he is at the top of his game.
The plot finds Robinson Crusoe Mark Watney (Matt Damon), trapped on Mars after the rest of his crew thinking him dead, have retreated back to the safety of the space staion. Fortunately he is a botanist, and the film involves its hero, overcoming extraordinary odds, through intelligence and the ability to problem solve to make one final attempt to return to Earth. Back on planet Earth, Scott and screenwriter Goddard recall Ron Howards Apollo 13, as NASA scientists, are propelled into action to orchestrate a plan to rescue Watney. Here, Scott’s capacity to extract fine performances from his eclectic cast is validated. Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kristen Wiig deliver finely tuned performances. Back on the space station Jessica Chastain and the ever reliable Michael Pena work to execute the one time rescue mission.
The source material, a heavily researched bestseller by Andy Weir is finely adapted by Drew Goddard.