Sir Ridley Scott has had a tough couple of years. His return to the ALIEN franchise, the inception of which made him a household name, was met with derision and snide remarks from fans and critics, and Exodus: Gods and Kings gave no impression of staying power longer than a mosquito bite. The man who gave us Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Black Hawk Down has needed a comeback hit for ages.
And This Is It.
Sir Ridley returns to space with a mammoth cast and a stellar script from Drew Goddard, of Cabin in the Woods and Netflix’s Daredevil fame. The Martian is thoughtful, funny, engrossing, and a sure-fire hit with audiences and critics, judging from its first weekend alone. After witnessing it in 3D its opening weekend, I can further the hype even more with this here glowing review of mine.
Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, a botanist part of NASA’s mission to Mars. When a surprise storm hits and whisks him off, damaging his life support, he is reluctantly left for dead by his fellow crew, much to the chagrin of the Captain of the outfit, played by Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, Take Shelter). The next SOL (the Martian equivalent of a day), he limps his way back to his HAB[itat] and starts planning to survive while finding a way to contact Earth and alert them to his Robinson Crusoe situation.
The cast here is mammoth and incredible. To list a few names who make appearances: Michigan native Jeff Daniels as the cautious head of NASA who has the bottom line and legacy of his organization resting on his decisions, Sean Bean as a fiery mission director who will do anything for his crew mates, Chiwetel Ejiofor as the passionate engineer who is Watney’s main contact with Earth, SNL alum Kristen Wiig as a passive spokesperson; the list goes on, but then that’s just what this would become, a list.
The film looks genuine, even in the slightly dimmed RealD 3D I viewed it in. The Martian backdrop looks convincing, no hints of life as far as the camera eye can capture. We have been graced with 4 consecutive years of breathtaking space travel films, starting with Sir Ridley’s Prometheus in 2012, continuing with Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity in 2013, Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR last year, and this year we have The Martian.
There is a clear sense of human achievement in the film that makes some of the harsher elements easier to deal with. Whenever something bad happens to Watney, he often remarks on his bad luck but comes quick with a witty response and a sense of optimism that Matt Damon can easily provide with his screen presence.
I am glad that space travel movies are making a comeback. There is a sense of wonder that they provide that spurs the imagination and inspires young minds to explore the sciences, which this movie will surely aid in seeing as science is what keeps the main character alive throughout. It makes for an entertaining adventure, that’s for sure.