Let’s face it, The Martian is kinda 2015s’ Interstellar and the comparisons are unavoidable especially with Mark Wahlberg and an adult Murph (Jessica Chastain) now an astronaut in the world of The Martian, but jokes aside, the similarities are there of course and like Interstellar, The Martian is a film with a lot of hype already and people are pretty excited to see it. And it already has some pretty positive reviews all around from people that have already seen it at TIFF and with a recent press screening.
The hype is partially because it’s based off a well received, acclaimed novel and because of its great cast and because one of sci-fis great directors, Ridley Scott but can The Martian succeed where Interstellar failed? Maybe, in giving audiences a more grounded story without alternate dimensions and abstract ideas, a straightforward story of survival may seem more accessible to people and might just give the edge to the film in terms of performances. We’ll have to see how the acting in the film is, heavily driven by a partially solo performance from Matt Damon who has the pedigree and charisma to do a role like this, so The Martian might just have more of a chance of awards recognition for its acting rather than its visual production and spectacle, like Interstellar did.
Ridley Scott for me always brings a more gritty approach with his sci-fi without as much emphasis on emotional stories as Nolan, who has focused on family in quite a few of his stories and I think this could well be a return to form for Scott with a high focus on realistic science in a near future setting, based on the details in Andy Weirs story and some potentially great writing from Drew Goddard. Both Nolan and Scott have dealt with big concepts and ideas in their sci-fi films but The Martian just looks more straight laced and it’s a story not too far off in the future which may give it more of a chance for critical recognition as fantastical, futuristic sci-fi tend to get shut out from awards sadly enough.
Fantastical features alone don’t shut out sci-fi films of course and the writing also needs to be on point, as well as coherence (maybe a flaw of Insterstellar on first viewing) and believability in relation to the world that the film itself sets up, which is why I think The Martian will be immediately more accessible to people, plus the stranded likeable main character angle is a clever touch and can really hammer home the emotional moments
As things are, there’s a great chance for The Martian to do really well commercially and it’s already doing well critically without having a wide release, whether it will be better than Interstellar is tough to say but as time has gone and as I’ve thought about this question, it sort of doesn’t really matter as The Martian seems to have the makings of a great drama set apart from others and I personally can’t wait to see it for myself.