Smart, captivating and surprisingly funny, THE MARTIAN is amongst Ridley Scott’s best work
After the disappointing EXODUS and the widely slated THE COUNSELOR director Ridley Scott is back on top form with his latest film THE MARTIAN, a sci-fi thriller starring Matt Damon.
Based on a best-selling novel by Andy Weir, THE MARTIAN tells the story of Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is presumed dead when a dust storm forces the crew of a manned mission to Mars to evacuate their base without him. But Watney survives and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With limited resources at hand, Watney must draw upon his ingenuity to find a way to contact NASA to signal that he is alive, while also surviving on a planet without any food or water.
Smart, thrilling and surprisingly funny, THE MARTIAN is certainly amongst Ridley Scott’s best work. The film is visually stunning with Scott capturing Mars’ rich red and stark desert with beautifully composed wide shots and polished cinematography. It’s worth coughing up the extra pennies to see the film in 3D as the imagery is spectacular. Add to this stunning special effects and you have a contemporary sci-fi film that captivating from beginning to end.
Matt Damon gives a solid and impressive performance as NASA botanist Mark Watney. The film’s script inherits the books humorous and snarky dialogue and Damon charismatically delivers his sarcastic lines with sharp comic timing that doesn’t clash with the film’s survivalist tone. Damon excels as the likable protagonist and is certainly committed in the role, his physical appearance altering as his body begins to suffer from his food rationing.
Damon is joined by an excellent supporting cast who elevate the emotion of this event. Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels all make strong impressions as Watney’s fellow crew members and the NASA big guys. The NASA team work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home and its riveting to watch the emotion of the colleagues unfold, particularly when his crewmates concurrently plot a daring rescue mission.
The film isn’t without its flaws however. Its strong dedication to science unfortunately does lead to quite a bit of technobabble between NASA and the other astronauts which is a little off putting at times. The plot also becomes a bit overcrowded, particularly towards the end, with Watney, his crew, NASA, and the other characters, all working on their own ‘mission’ which makes it a little difficult to keep up. These are minor criticisms however and should not spoil your overall enjoyment of the film.
While THE MARTIAN may lack the technical ambition of Alfonso Cuaron’s GRAVITY or the emotional punch of Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR, it is nevertheless, a captivating, well-written and visually stunning film. A worthy addition to Ridley Scott’s filmography and one of the best sci-fi films of the year.
THE MARTIAN is released in UK cinemas from 30 September 2015