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Guys, there’s liquid water on Mars! I’m sorry, I’m kind of still getting to grips with that. Isn’t science great?!
Science certainly is great for Matt Damon’s Mark Wattney in this year’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s bestselling novel, The Martian. He has been accidentally left behind by his crew and must find a way to survive in this alien world.
Director Ridley Scott is one of the few properly good and respected directors that has a large filmography demonstrating a full range of quality. The same man who brought us Gladiator also brought us Hannibal. The man who brought us Alien brought us Prometheus. My friends and family have been so excited for The Martian. I honestly didn’t know what to expect.
I can safely say that my fears were not entirely justified.
Mars is the only planet we as humans have plans to land on anytime soon. The reason we haven’t done it yet is not its toxic atmosphere, its lack of surface water or its freezing temperature (we landed on the Moon didn’t we, 50 years ago). Its because it’s really far away. Four years away, at least.
Scott’s expert lensing captures this arid landscape in a way I think is actually kinda uniquely good. I have seen a lot of movies and TV shows take us to Mars and beyond. For the first time, I feel like this is an authentic representation of the Red Planet.
Speaking of authentic representation, the Science seems legit. I am definitely not a NASA scientist, but when the science babble feels close to physics lessons I remember from School, I feel I can trust it. There are a couple of moments I thought otherwise, but most of this appears accurate, according to my calculations.
But this movie is called The Martian, not Mars, so how is the lad we are told to spend a great number of SOL’s with?
Oscar Winning Screenwriter Matt Damon here has never been more likable. Like Tom Hanks levels of likability. Not only is Wattney an expert in his field and thus has the smarts to at least attempt the long struggle to survive.
He’s also surprisingly upbeat. Obviously, it being a lone survivor movie we have the moments of desperation breaking down our protagonist, yet I feel that the humour in this movie, not just from Damon, is somehow a realistic reaction for human beings. This balance of seriousness and lack of it is what comes out of some quite clever writing. Think of Gone Girl and its jovial tone mixed in with the darkness of that story.
There’s something about this story I can’t spoil that I have not seen in any of the lone-survivor movies I’ve seen. I tell you that it makes for some sort of mix between Apollo 13 and Life of Pi and it’s perfectly good.
I’m relieved at how good The Martian turned out to be.
My only real complaints are that some of the more serious scenes didn’t get serious enough for my taste, though like I said, I enjoyed a lot of the levity. Something like his thoughts on suicide would be nice. Not nice, but you know what I mean. I also find the pacing to be a little off sometimes. I suppose the only way this film could be done is compress time to a thriller-style rate of progression.
The exposition at times I can see being a drag for some people, it was a little for me. On the most part they deliver it well.
Overall, I don’t think this film is entirely worth the hype, strange considering it had that terrible spoiler-filled trailer, but it is a very well put together movie. I can’t imagine this sort of film being easy to make entertaining, with a subject like this.
Not a great Ridley Scott film, but certainly one of his better ones.
Recommended Scenario: If you want some heartfelt and sciencey science-fiction.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.