Movie Review: THE MARTIAN (2015) – Man’s Triumph Over Nature… With Science!
Never have I seen a movie that hits the ground running as hard and fast as ‘The Martian’. I’ve had issues with Ridley Scott’s films for a few years now, (see my angry rant about ‘Exodus: Gods And Kings’) but can honestly say that I’ve got very little complaints about this one. None actually. None at all.
Check out my Spoiler free Movie Review of ‘The Martian’ and share your thoughts below.
[schema type=”movie” url=”http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3659388/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1″ name=”The Martian” director=”Ridley Scott” producer=”Ridley Scott” actor_1=”Matt Damon” ]
During a special expedition to Mars in the near future, a team of astronauts have to do an emergency evacuation due to unexpected weather conditions. During the storm, one of their team gets injured and is presumed dead, as the other have to make the hard call to abandon his body and leave the Red planet. They don’t realize however, that their crew mate is very much alive, and they’ve inadvertantly just stranded him on Mars.
‘The Martian’ is a subtle and visually restraint film about this one botanist, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) having to survive on Mars, all by his lonesome. It’s basically ‘Castaway’, but on Mars. Damon carries the entire film, since it is more or less a one man show, with some great performances by the supporting cast, of whom there are many.
As expected, Watney has challenges to overcome while he’s stranded on Mars, the biggest of which is having a food supply to last him until he is rescued. The conflict in the movie is thus: A scientist, having to do math and other sciencey things in order to keep himself alive on Mars, while other scientist-like people on Earth try to figure out how to save him… with science!
‘The Martian’ is very refreshing because it’s a movie with the typical stranded concept, but it never goes dark, despite being one of the worst cases of a stranded story ever. Damon’s Watney is always optimistic and works through his challenges one at a time, with a positive outlook from the get-go; something other movies show that the character needs to overcome his despair before working on his survival. Surprisingly, for a filmmaker who usually goes dark, Scott avoids any of those moments here, as Watney does increasingly dangerous things, with a casual and almost idealistic ‘gee whiz’ attitude.
The best thing about ‘The Martian’ is that is has no gimmicks. The film features no formulaic or technical gimmicks of filmaking to tell the story. Watney’s survival story is partly narrated by himself as a means of chronicling his adventures for the mission report, and we’re shown his adventures through the use of multiple on board, Go-Pro-like cameras. But this is kept only when needed to put the audience in Watney’s perspective, and doesn’t overwhelm the storytelling. No excessive ‘found footage’ elements are used, but rather employed to effectively tell the story from multiple vantage points.
Similarly, Scott is able to convey the sense of isolation felt by Watney, while still spreading the story out over the perspective of many other characters, acted by a stellar cast. Jessica Chastain (‘Zero Dark Thirty’) and Michael Pena (‘Ant-Man’) head up the group of Watney’s colleagues who left him behind unknowingly, while on Earth Jeff Daniels, (‘The Newsroom‘) Sean Bean (Every movie ever made) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (’12 Years A Slave‘) lead the group of NASA employees attempting to figure out a way to save him. Damon gives one of his career best performances, playing a character with a lot to lose, but one who never loses hope despite grim odds.
‘The Martian’ is a well rounded movie, told with an ease of filmmaking that takes away any sense of intrusion by the filmmaker himself. The story flows naturally and engagingly. It’s a return to dramatic storytelling by Ridley Scott, who seemed to have lost it for a long while now. An engaging movie that deserves to be seen by everyone.