Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard, Andrew Weir
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wig, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor
The Martian stars Matt Damon as Mark Watney, an astronaut on a doomed mission to Mars when he is presumed dead by his crew after a freak storm hits, forcing his team to leave him behind. But much to everyones surprise Watney survives leaving him isolated on a desolate planet with only 30 days of food left and his science and wit to live off as he awaits to be rescued by NASA.
Ridley Scott of resent times has been on a bit of a losing streak. With disappointments such as Robin Hood (2010), the atrocity that was The Counsellor (2013) and the underwhelming Exodus: Gods and kings (2014), Ridley Scott is really yet to return to form. So is it safe to say that the visionary that brought us Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Matchstick Men (2003), American Gangster (2007) and the greatest one of them all Gladiator (2000) has returned to form? Absolutely.
The Martian immediately immersed me with the jaw dropping opening shot of the vast planet Mars scoping the huge screen with a gorgeous orange/bronze colour that shone off the surface. It is safe to say that the film is reminiscent of Gravity (2013), as it is noticeable from the first shot from both films as they both include a jaw dropping long shot of these two separate visually stunning planets.
Andrew Weir is the original author of the very successful book of the same name. But after never having read the book but hearing some positive feedback and hearing of the books incredible humour, it really made me wonder how the film would capture the humour and the serious tones that the book supposedly did so well. But after an intense first act, the films humour (Mark Watney's in particular) unraveled in the film perfectly. Many times the film had me cracking up at Watney's brilliant sarcasm and character, he truly has set the example on how to act and look on the brighter things of life when all odds known to man are totally against you. The wit of the film gives you that perfect relief from the intensity and harshness of the setting and atmosphere. As you may have guessed, growing and living off food on a planet where nothing grows would be incredibly difficult, and will require a hell of a lot of science that may worry audiences in thinking that all the science language will totally baffle you and make you feel like you're miles away from whats going on. Fortunately, yet again with the result of brilliant writing it is incredibly entertaining, fascinating and hilarious watching Watney become entranced with determination to not let this planet beat him through his great knowledge of botany. Throughout Watney's efforts to try to return home the film has your heart filled with hope, your hands gripping the seats and kicking yourself laughing, a combination of emotions I never thought could work.
Visually the film may be one of the best of the year. If you had told me the film was shot on Mars I would have believed you. The CGI was so beautifully done in The Martian and it may be the best since Gravity (2013). The ugly beauty of Mars's vast desert landscape and huge open space was captured by excellent cinematography, again very reminiscent of Lubezki, the two time Academy Award Winner of whom worked on Gravity (2013).
I pray that Matt Damon gets nominated for an Oscar for his performance. Every second of his screen time is pure gold, you are transfixed to see how he overcomes obstacle after obstacle with but yet somehow manages to maintain high spirits. A story thats being told alongside Mark Watney's survival, is the story of NASA trying to get Watney home safe, whilst trying to maintaining a good public image. The actors that are trying to convey that story succeeded as well, brilliant performances all round. Kristen Wig the most surprising as this project was totally different to some of her more recent works. Jeff Daniels as the director of NASA is without a doubt the strongest of the performances outside of Matt Damon, he conveys this hard strategic business man as you would be if you're head of an organisation as large as NASA, but also showing he cares about Watney and bringing him home. These two sides of his character brings him conflict and he portrays this struggle very well on the big screen.
Whilst the performances were great all round, I thought the film lacked that emotional side of the characters involved in the NASA side of the narrative(except Jef Daniels), especially the crew. Whilst the crew are doing their upmost to help I didn't fear for them as much as I did for Matt Damon's character, forcing me to almost not care for them but when I did it was just if they could get Mark Watney home safe. Jeff Daniels as the director of NASA. His harsh business like mind battling with his heart really left you conflicted alongside with him.
The Martian has definitely established Ridley Scott's long awaited return to form and has also established itself as being one of the best films this year. A brilliant performance from Matt Damon and the whole cast, one of the most visually stunning films this year and a genuinely excellently directed film. The character of Mark Watney really makes you realise, that things really aren't that bad.