ByJames Wood, writer at
Unabashed Transformers fan. Man crush on Tom Hardy. Avid fan of Tommy Wiseau's cult disasterpiece The Room.
James Wood

What an incredible movie! The Martian is Ridley Scott’s best film since Prometheus, a surprisingly feel-good, smart and epic science fiction adventure that follows a man going up against all odds when astronaut Mark Watney is left stranded on Mars. I loved Prometheus, it's one of my favourite films, but after Prometheus Ridley Scott directed The Counsellor and Exodus: Gods & Kings, both of which I was very disappointed and terribly bored by so it’s great to see him back on form since his 2012 space horror prequel.

As a person who loves explosions, loud-carnage filled action films and general chaos, it’s always a nice change to experience a thrilling film that has none of that and can still grab you and leave you in awe. The Martian left me in awe thanks to marvellous performances, stunning set design, gorgeous cinematography, a lot of creativity and flawless special effects. Ridley Scott’s direction is as grand as ever, there’s a sense of scope and scale, and Scott perfectly balances the humour effortlessly. No jarring tonal shifts or heavy exposition, this film blends genres and themes so damn well, I still can’t get over how solid this film is.

My only slight niggle about The Martian is its lack of emotion, Gravity and Interstellar had some hard hitting, lump in your throat scenes. I felt this film needed more of that, especially considering the situation lead character Watney was stuck in. There are certain shots that are quite harrowing, for example the moment you see Watney’s body seriously deteriorated from the lack of exercise and nutrition, and another shot of him sat perched on a valley looking out, it felt like he was giving up and that’s where a semblance of emotion comes from. Still, Mark Watney is without a doubt the most optimistic character in film, and the same goes for the rest of the character assemble who are so worth investing and following, everyone is fully fleshed out and interesting, and all the actors get a superbly balanced amount of screen time, considering the amount of insane talent on show here.

Matt Damon is a terrific lead, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad performance from the guy and this is one of his best. The same goes for the huge supporting cast, all utterly convincing whilst delivering some moments of laughter and at the same time, keeping the story grounded and realistic enough despite its other worldly setting. Talking of the setting, the cinematography framed by Dariusz Wolski is jaw dropping, every chunk of Mars’ rocky landscape and sandy surface comes to life, the red planet has never looked this good. The CGI is perfect, it looks real, as if they filmed The Martian up there. The shots of Earth from the Hermes Ship are utterly astounding, I wish I saw this film in 3D for the depth and for the sake of even more immersive viewing. Harry Gregson-Williams’ soundtrack isn’t his best but he stirs some epic scores when the stakes get higher, and during the scenes where Watney is building and creating his way to survival, the music is upbeat and relaxing.

Ridley Scott's latest film has received praise from critics and audiences, and rightfully so, it is a brilliant piece of filmmaking, a smart adventure that has the humour and the grand sense of adventure to make it an unforgettable experience.


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