Based on a book by the same name The Martian sees Matt Damon play astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars after a manned mission goes wrong and his crew believes him to be dead. The film follows Watney as he struggles to survive on the planet, whilst the scientists at NASA back on earth try and find a way to bring him home.
The cast in this film is insane featuring multiple Oscar nominees including Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels just to name a few.
The film wastes no time in throwing you straight into the action. Whatney and his crew are already on Mars, and quite quickly get separated within the first 15 minutes. Chastain plays the Crew captain faced with the difficult decision of saving her crew or staying behind to look for Watney.
What is unique about this film compared to Scott’s previous films is how funny it is. The film is self-aware, never trying to take itself too seriously. It is a refreshing change of pace for Scott whose films are usually very serious and dark.
Damon shines in this film as Watney, it’s his best film in years. What is amazing about Damon’s performance is how positive Damon portrays him. Even in the most, dire circumstances Watney is making jokes masking the terror that is shimmering on the surface.
Some of the best scenes in the film are of Watney making his daily blog entries trying to grow potatoes in a planet where nothing grows.
Jeff Daniels is also a stand out here, playing the NASA director Teddy Sanders back on earth. Daniels plays a cowardly suit trying to tow the line between the press and the scientists below him.
Other fun sequences in the film involve its use of 70s Disco music. Its decision to use this type of music was genius and again very self aware to the films tone. One of the best sequences in the film involves the use of “Starman” by David Bowie as the film cuts back and forth between Mars and earth as both sides try and bring Watney home.
The script written by Cabin in The Woods writer Drew Goddard is a perfect mix of humor and drama, which makes the 2 hour 20 min run time fly by.
The films best sequences by far were the scenes on Mars, reminiscent at times of the film Cast Away, as Watney is alone lost in his thoughts wondering if he will ever see his family again. If the film has any flaws at all is that the scenes on Mars were far more interesting then those on Earth. There was a 30-35 minute stretch towards the end of the film where it didn’t cut back to Mars at all and the film definitely suffered briefly because of it.
That being said this film is certainly up there with some of Ridley Scotts best films and is easily his best in years. Damon’s work here is also some of his best and wouldn’t surprise me if he gets an Oscar nomination out of it.
By Simon Hanson