Movie Review - The Martian
There are two things in life that are inevitable.
The first: Ridley Scott will make another good movie… eventually. The second: someone will make a film about Mars and it will be the yardstick for space movies until we get there for real.
Good news! The Martian achieves both these feats, and it’s marvellous must-see cinema.
Matt Damon plays Mark Whatney, the greatest American Hero never to have existed. He is left behind on the Red Planet after his crew abandons their mission during a storm, assuming his death. But if its one thing we’ve learned in Matt Damon movies it’s that he knows how to survive.
As a trained botanist equipped with the most positive attitude in the galaxy, Whatney begins the process of survival by rationing supplies and creating his own sustainable veggie garden within his NASA popup tent home. This is all in the interim as he waits for a response from Earth in his never-ending belief someone will come to save him.
Back on Earth, Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) is the head of NASA who is dealing with some seriously bad PR. He’s just lost an astronaut and then, due to satellite imagery, found him alive. Awkward. Teddy is now faced with the daunting problem of how to bring Whatney back. With the guidance of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig, a team of scientists and the prayers of Earth they formulate a complex and risky plan. After all, this is rocket science.
To be polite, Ridley Scott has had a few ‘misses’ in the last few years. As my review for Exodus: Gods and Kings showed, it was almost certain Scott had succumbed to old age. I was wrong. Scott is back in the stars where it all began in Alien.
This time, the enemy isn’t a creature - it’s the elements. The Martian embraces the power of the human will and instinct to survive: rewarding intelligence and prosperity. Importantly, this movie really makes you want to see someone get to Mars within our lifetime.
The entire film is gripping and vivid. I want to say, “Houston, we have a problem,” but, truthfully, that would be nitpicking. The casting is spot-on. The setting - despite being on another planet - is believable, and the science makes sense (to me and the general populous, anyway). It all makes for a tame version of Interstellar (sans the epic Hans Zimmer soundtrack). Actually, it’s more Castaway-meets-Apollo 13 (sans Tom Hanks).
Whatever it is, The Martian is brilliant. Go and see it.