Release Date: September 30th
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Running Time: 141 minutes
The chances of anything coming from Mars is… quite good if recent findings are anything to go by. A natural water source on the red planet would have made astronaut Mark Watney’s (Matt Damon) predicament considerably easier. After being caught in a storm and separated from the rest of his team, Watney is presumed dead and is left alone on a planet that almost seems vindictive in its attempts to kill him. With limited supplies and no way of contacting NASA to tell them he is still alive, Watney has no option but to “Science the s@#t” out of his seemingly impossible circumstances.
Writer Drew Goddard was an ideal choice to translate Andy Weir’s book to the screen as Watney’s snarky charm could come across as irritating in lesser hands. Goddard is no stranger to off-kilter humour having made the criminally underrated Cabin in the Woods and was essential in getting the recent Daredevil series off the ground. Its humour sets The Martian apart from more recent efforts like Interstellar which felt like three hours of being hit with a bible and a science book in a sterile room [ahem! – Ed]. The supporting characters are well utilised with Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean’s contrasting opinions on how best to deal with the red planet’s sole occupant a nice spin on what could have been “god damn it we are American, let’s get him home!” type shenanigans.
Visuals have always been a staple of Ridley Scott movies and no matter what your opinion on recent fare such as Prometheus and Exodus, the scale is never less than epic. Here, given not only a new planet but outer space to play with, he shows all of his De Mille-esque flair for spectacle. Mars is beautifully realised and the detail involved in the frankly horrific lifestyle of astronauts in mission mode, shows Scott is never afraid to put the science in science fiction.
A film like this lives and dies on is lead performer and to that end Damon hits it out of the park. The fact that the character’s main strength is his resourcefulness and mental strength to keep it all together in the face of insurmountable odds, means that he is not afforded an awards highlight reel breakdown such as Tom Hanks in Castaway and may mean he will be overlooked come awards season.
There are some missteps. The constant cutting to what’s happening on the ground along with the time jumps means we never get a sense of the day-to-day mundane isolation that Watney is feeling. That Watney is able to jump from one disaster to another without ever losing his glib wit means we never quite reach a sense of panic inducing dread that Gravity was able to convey so well. Donald Glover shows up doing that annoying thing where he pretends to be Abed from Community and momentarily derails the movie.
These are small complaints though and in a year of constant disappointments (Terminator, Age of Ultron, Fantastic 4) The Martian is a stand out of smart, exciting entertainment that has sadly been lacking this season.
4 out of 5 nerds
FTN Competition time!!!!!!
To celebrate the release of The Martian which in in cinemas from tomorrow. We have two amazing sets of goodies to give away.
To win these out of this world(sorry) prizes which includes Wristband, Ares Patches, Pin badge, Plant in a can, Buggy Keychain, Cap, Logbook, T-shirt, Backpack, Headphones.
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