The Martian is simply out of this world.
Based on ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir, we follow Dr Mark Whatney, a botanist stranded on Mars after a mission gone wrong.
Some would argue that Ridley Scott hasn’t had the most successful few years, directing either bitter disappointments or films with incredibly mixed reviews. Whether you have loved or hated his recent attempts, one thing is for sure, The Martian is incredible.
From the trailer it looked like we were heading for an Interstellar knock off with Castaway as its main influence, but thankfully we are left with easily one of the best films of the year. Creatively, the script is hands down one of the best we have seen in years. Drew Goddard expertly blends his humour effortlessly with the source material and as a result leaves us with something both dramatic and hilarious. The story remains fluid, choosing to follow Whatney step by step rather than give parameters to a beginning, middle and end. Adding to this further, the science has been simplified enough to guide the audience by hand rather than whack them in the head with a text book. All this comes together nicely as we are left on the edge of our seat while the space man does something as simple as growing a potato. Marvellous!
With an amazing and untouched environment to play with, Scott expertly applies his skill at both creating and maintaining something out of this world. Bringing depth to two worlds simultaneously, he manages to humanize space and ground those on Earth. Given the many elements of the film, his strength comes from maintaining themes and a central story arc without blurring the lines that so many scripts can be guilty of doing. With the central theme engrained so well throughout, we are always reminded that this is as much a survival film as it is sci-fi.
Topping off an already impressive collaboration between story and direction is performance and this is one film where the actors really come into their own. With an absolutely incredible performance from Matt Damon as Mark Whatney, it’s almost impossible to find fault with anyone. As much as Damon steals the show however, a special mention has to go to Jeff Daniels. A character that could so easily be labelled the bad guy is handled magically by Daniels and as such, humanises how tough a decision would be with if someone’s else life depended on what you did next. It’s this very factor alone that resonates with all the actors and therefore leads to such a great film.
Alas, within all the excitement, we could be forgiven in thinking that this was a perfect film. From the outside, I loved this film, but I couldnt help feeling a little disappointed with the end. Not wanting to spoil things, I wont go into any detail but it was just enough to make me roll my eyes a little. However, even with this tiny afterthought, it wasn’t enough to take anything away from how I felt at the end.
Overall, there is always a fear with science fiction that the science will overwhelm and alienate the audience rather than help them follow the story. Thankfully Ridley Scott has managed to take a simple story of a man thought lost in space and turn it into a heroic adventure of survival, drama and emotion. Easily within my top 3 of the year so far, I cant recommend this film more.
4.5 out of 5.