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Review - The Martian

By midlandsmovies, Dec 16 2015 09:08AM

The Martian (2015) Dir. Ridley Scott

Returning to his sci-fi roots, director Ridley Scott adapts Andy Weir’s novel with this marooned-man-on-Mars science drama. I say science because it covers everything from communication to botany but not once does Drew Goddard’s ingenious script move too fast (or too slow) for an audience to keep up with the details of the scientific methods it contains.

After a cosmic storm on the surface of the red planet Matt Damon is presumed dead and his fellow astronauts – led by their Mission Commander played by Jessica Chastain – blast off the rock leaving him with limited rations, transport and communication. Damon as Mark Watney begins by assessing his situation and tackles his food, oxygen and life support problems one by one in ingenious scenes of survival. As those on earth discover he is alive, a number of plans are devised by his team back at NASA.

The great support cast of Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean & Chiwetel Ejiofor then discuss their options for the various attempts to retrieve him. The balance of plot, action, turmoil and Damon’s inner monologues captured on the ship’s cameras are well handled and Scott wastes no time in his efficient story-telling style. The film begins with a bang and never lets up pace even though the protagonist is essentially waiting for things to happen to him at times.

The script also infuses the situation with touches of comedy. Sean Bean’s presence at a discussion about the rescue – which they label “Project Elrond” after the Lord of the Rings was a surreal funny moment and Damon is the perfect actor to carry the likeable everyman stuck in an awful predicament. In addition, he also tries to alleviate his boredom and loneliness with witty quips and comments which were a great touch.

With Chastain and Damon starring, their presence echoes their joint roles in Nolan’s Interstellar – Damon even playing a stranded man again – but the two films are worlds apart. For me, Interstellar got bogged down in its science and dragged until the impressive space scenes where The Martian throws us immediately into the problems of the story and is all the better for it. It’s also great to see Scott back doing what he does best and for me, the less of his historical forays (Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven, Exodus) the better.

A brilliant Hollywood blockbuster without the usual overabundance on silly CGI, The Martian is good old fashioned fun and audiences will get behind its super story of saving a stranded spaceman.


Midlands Movies Mike

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