The Martian is directed by Ridley Scott and follows astronaut Mark Watney who gets left behind on a misson on Mars, premused dead by his team as he tries to survive marooned on his own, provide for himself and signal to Earth that he’s alive, the film stars Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Michael Pena Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Donald Glover.
The Martians plot right off the bat is a pretty radical and intriguing idea, sci-fi that not’s too far off in the future and practically believable and everything down to the Ares mission landing vehicle, their space suits and rovers just looks very ‘real’, which speaks to the amount of research that went into making the film and in writing the story for the novel. I like that there’s a lot of attention to detail and nothing feels too fantastical, we already have a few robotic rovers trawling around Mars but not astronauts, not yet anyway. Though there’s nothing wrong with over the top sci-fi of course. The world that Ridley Scott creates here looks visually stunning from the space suits the astronauts have to the barren and sprawling landscapes of the red planet, it’s a visual feast to say the least.
And even with Mars being half the size of Earth and having a fraction of our gravity, it’s still an inhospitable and dangerous place to be on, as you probably already knew and find out as you watch the film but nevertheless, the image of Mars we get to see in the film is a pretty compelling one even though the planet is barren and ‘dead’. There’s just something compelling about watching a story of human survival, be it at sea, in a in the wilderness or on another planet, seeing the highs and lows of the human condition and the lengths people will go to survive can be amazing and throw in the element of an alien planet into the mix and you have a possibly even greater story to tell.
The story is gripping from start to finish, knowing the setting and that any small mistake on Mars will be amplified and could potentially be catastrophic for Marc as he’s on his own and of course has limited supplies, it’s very much a numbers game as he realises the situation he’s in and that he can only survive for a certain time period with his supplies. And even with a fair amount of the film being about the time Marks spends alone on Mars, the story is still entertaining because of Matt Damon as Marks sense of humour, he’s the “best botanist” on the planet as he humorously puts it. Watching Mark survive with his resourcefulness, improvisation and will to survive is pretty amazing and he got around to doing things alone that I would never have even though of.
The action is split between Mars and Earth however and we get some great scenes at NASA as they try to get a grasp of the situation and devise some sort of plan after they find out Marc is still alive, scenes between the NASA higher ups are tense affairs and bring up interesting moral questions, Jeff Daniels nails it as Teddy Sanders, head of NASA and a pragmatist who just wants missions to go as scheduled, wanting everything done in a minimal amount of time. While Vincent Kapoor – head of Mars missions wants to get Mark back as well, staying optimistic but also realizing the situation is far from ideal, Mitch Henderson meanwhile – played by Sean Bean opts to go against protocol and save Mark at all costs. It’s great to see the Earth scenes as they bring an added angle to the story, bringing interesting characters and additional problems and what a cast as well. Everyone is on their A game with Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels especially being brilliant, though even the characters with smaller roles also bring something to the table and are good to watch.
The Martian is brilliant sci-fi with a set up that grabs your attention and keeps it for the duration of the plot with a great performance from Matt Damon and all around by the cast, Mars is a stellar, uncompromising beast that makes for a fantastic setting and backdrop to a great story.
. Has some stunning visuals, Mars looks beautiful
. Great cast and strong performances
. Plot is gripping throughout, has nice segues from major events that keep you interested