- Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
- Ridley Scott
- Ridley Scott, Simon kinberg, Mark Huffam, Aditya Sood, Michael Schaefer
- Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wig
- Ster Kinekor
- Cinema (2D)
- Bluray, Cinema (2D), Cinema (3D), IMax
I have been a Sci-Fi fan since the very beginning, and quite honestly, one of my favourite film makers in the genre has to be Ridley Scott. From Alien, to Blade Runner, to more recently – Prometheus, and finally The Martian, the guy has a unique edge that other film makers cannot even begin to fathom. He has firmly established himself as the Sci-Fi film director of our generation.
Nowhere is this statement more true than in the clutches of a lost-in-space genre Sci-Fi movie such as The Martian. Sure this type of story has been done before, but come on, let’s be honest, it hasn’t happened in space, and certainly not with a likeable actor such as Matt Damon as the lead (and those movies on earth didn’t count!). The Martian is a different beast. It introduces viewers to the concept of being stuck on a deserted planet, thought to be dead and beating the odds by surviving. Surviving with the tools you have, and doing so in quite a bit of style.
The Martian is quite a bit lighter in tone to the majority of similarly themed films (such as Interstellar) and introduces quite a bit of humour, which I quite liked. Matt Damon showing off his acting chops as a very sciencey, geeky botanist, that adapts by solving problems as they present themselves, in the most practical ways he can think of. Drew Goddard certainly knows how to write these types of scenarios to good effect and this is very apparent in the way they are played out on the screen.
He gets the story off to a good start by introducing the viewer to six astronauts on their mission to Mars. They are all instantly likeable and relatable, they are geeky and/or brainy, but at the same time they are human. Mark Watney (Matt Damon), Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), Ricky Martinez (Michael Peña), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara) and Aksel Hennie (Alex Vogel) all play vastly different characters, and yet they gel well together as a sort of quasi-family.
When a storm hits the Martian surface, the crew are forced to evacuate. Watney gets lost in the storm after being hit by a piece of debris. Lewis’ character, the commander does not want to give up on Watney, and Chastains portrayal here really struck home. They are however forced to abandon Watney, believing him to be dead. The story as you can imagine, really picks up at this point, as it turns out that Watney survived, and it follows his time on the Martian surface, fighting off insanity, and just trying to survive until help arrives.
There are times during the film where you are genuinely happy with Watney, and there are times where you feel sorry for him. Damon balances out the role perfectly. He meets the cues for the different scenes to very good effect. Meanwhile back on earth, several characters at NASA, initially thinking Watney is dead, mourns his loss. Jeff Daniels, who portrays the very aloof and headfast Theodore “Teddy” Sanders, Director of NASA, really has a way to make you hate his character, which I must admit is quite difficult considering how much I have loved his previous characters in films. Supporting cast members also include Sean Bean (who surprisingly doesn’t die in this film – yes I was waiting right until the end credits came up to be sure) who plays Hermes Flight Director, Mitch Henderson, Kristen Wiig, who plays NASA Spokersperson Annie Montrose, and of course (in my opinion) the most stand-out supporting actor, Donald Glover as astrodynamicist, Rich Purnell.
The film serious has its ups and downs and quite honestly, this fantastic cast carries it all to good effect. You get your moments of utter joy and elation and there are times where you literally want to throw stuff at the characters for making such dumb dumb (and exceptionally stupid) mistakes. For scientist types, they really are fucking stupid at points in the movie and I don’t think it’s bad writing. It’s not that at all. Quite to the contrary, I think it’s very good writing, because it actually depicts human nature. Desperate times calls for desperate measures I guess.
Getting back to Mars though, I must say I was quite pleased with aesthetics of the sets. Mars is depicted as this harsh, sandy terrain, with Damon’s character forced to endure it. I’m surprised they didn’t make a sand in your crack joke at any point of the movie. The whole feel of the time spent on Mars feels so destitute and lonely and it really sucks you into the plight of Mark Watney. In sharp contrast, the sets used for NASA portions feels pretty much like the same bland, boring office sets that you see in most of every movie, but I guess that’s not really an issue. It is the characters that makes the sequences shine after all.
One of my favourite portions of the film, and something that also added to the above mentioned light-hearted nature of the film, is the music. Johanssen’s music becomes a character of its own. Disco is dead, long live disco doesn’t even begin to describe it. Damon’s character jokingly quips at various points of the movie how much he hates Johanssen’s choice in music, but yet it sustains him during his ordeal. From the soft soothing sounds of Gloria Gaynor to the upbeat sounds of Donna Summer, this film has them all. As any would-be Sci-Fi lover will know, music just makesSci-Fi that much better. Just ask Guardians of the Galaxy and it’s Awesome Mix Vol. 1.
Second Opinion (Mindless Pixie):
Over all I loved The Martian, it was quite a ride, and Matt Damon’s performance was brilliant. I loved the direction in the film, there was quite a bit of the movie that reminded me of Alien (a personal favourite). I only realized it was directed by Ridley Scott when the credits rolled! (the story is nothing like alien though tongue emoticon.) There are small details added to some scenes that just made it more impactful, notably where Matt Damon sits infront of the HAB camera smoking slightly after an experiment gone wrong. The plot of the movie is quite heavy and dark, but the humour added was quite effective in creating a balance to keep you entertained and not get bummed down by the main character’s predicament. The writers also don’t resort to some hocus pocus to solve the problems posed to the characters, giving the film a feeling that maybe it could be based on a true story? No? Well okay then.
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