The Martian reviews

Posts: 478
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: The Martian reviews

Postby danfrank » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:56 pm

Sabin wrote: BTW -- I missed the final joke. I ran out during credits because I broke my no soda rule. What was it?

A certain Gloria Gaynor disco classic.

I don't have much to add. A totally entertaining movie that is a celebration of science geeks. Mars looked very cool indeed. Matt Damon is terrific as usual. He does well keeping it light, but also was totally believable as the terrified guy just before the blastoff at the end. He really is well cast as the likea le guy that lots of people have to go to great trouble to save. I totally am renaming this Saving Mark Watney. A few minor complaints: I could have done without the crowds in Beijing and at Trafalgar Square. And what was Kristen Wiig doing in this movie?

Posts: 847
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:39 am
Location: United States

Re: The Martian reviews

Postby Bog » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:23 pm

ITALIANO wrote: (and trust me, when he dies he will be celebrated as one of the greats, which I won't necessarily agree with).

No offense to him meant as a human being, but that will honestly be a serious shame. 2 of his first 3 films were solid achievements and deserve recognition , then Thelma & Louise is the pinnacle, with Blackhawk Down of note. For 25 years, more has been mediocre to bad than even decent. He's been obsessed with Russell Crowe for a decade and a half and since his Oscar noms his best achievement is maaaaybe directing some really fine acting in Matchstick Men???

Italiano is probably correct, a celebration of a true great...just makes one wonder what that makes a Spielberg, a Scorsese, an Eastwood...limiting it merely to American men during basically the exact same timeframe.

Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8182
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am

Re: The Martian reviews

Postby Sabin » Mon Oct 12, 2015 1:12 am

The Martian is the most "Fuck Yeah, Science!" movie I've ever seen. This movie loves talking about science. It's the most chipper movie about being stranded I've ever seen. Italiano writes that he would've liked to have seen at least one member of the Ares crew rebel against the idea of bringing Matt Damon back home. I didn't mind that choice because of how it fits into The Martian's vision of science people being awesome. They're just people who have really cool jobs. And let's not mistake The Martian for a great film or anything, but it's panoramic vision of science transcending borders and bringing people together goes down pretty easy for me.

Credit screenwriter Drew Goddard for lightness of tone and concocting a narrative of one challenge after another. I haven't read the book but this is an incredibly streamlined film. I have no idea how The Martian will factor into this year's Oscar race. I'd imagine it's going to end up with a Producer's Guild of America nomination which likely means it's going to end up nominated for Best Picture. Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski has never been nominated so I suppose that might be in the cards. Production Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Effects, and Visual Effects are almost assured. I'd also imagine that Drew Goddard could end up with a nomination for adapting this book and in that context it would seem rather deserved. I mean, I don't know if I would call The Martian a great script, but considering how many different ways a movie like this could have gone, it's a pretty terrific feat of big budget screenwriting.

BTW -- I missed the final joke. I ran out during credits because I broke my no soda rule. What was it?
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

Posts: 4076
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:58 pm
Location: MILAN

Re: The Martian reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:32 am

It's certainly a good example of its kind - a kind, let me be honest, which I am not personally very interested in and I would never consider for Oscars (except the technical ones, which this movie definitely deserves to be at least nominated for). But of course if I have to forget for a moment that I find the idea of a man trying to survive on Mars as intellectually attractive as, say, a documentary on the malls in Dubai (and this is something that we must point out) - yes, well, it is not stupid, it is not badly written, and it's much, much better than Gravity (I have had to check THIS title on Imdb because I couldn't even remember it - Freud would find it interesting). I was grateful, for example, for the total absence of an "inspirational" or even religious side - something that I found so irritating in that Sandra Bullock vehicle; in its place, there's a good deal of humor (too much maybe?) and a healthy emotional distance (the disco soundtrack, for example), which we owe, I guess, to the presence of an old, wiser and intelligent director behind the cameras. (Yes, the members of the mission are all a bit too "good" - I badly needed one of them to rebel against the decision of rescuing Matt Damon - but this is still an American movie, so I knew it HAD to be this way). So, again, as a pure piece of entertainment it isn't bad. It isn't bad at all. But great films are something else.

As for Ridley Scott, it's true that he's "as good as his material" - but this is also true of most directors, including some very good ones. I'd rather say that, for a director of his caliber and reputation (and trust me, when he dies he will be celebrated as one of the greats, which I won't necessarily agree with), he has often shown bad taste in the choice of his material - sometimes an unusually bad taste for a man who is obviously talented and intelligent. But of course when the material is good he can do great things with it - and Thelma and Louise for example WAS a good screenplay, but Scott made it seem even better. Let's say that The Martian was also probably not bad to start with - but it's the director's touch that makes it interesting and never boring.

Posts: 1172
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 11:37 pm
Location: Israel

Re: The Martian reviews

Postby Uri » Sat Oct 03, 2015 4:59 am

I, too, totally agree with Tee – and BJ. It is indeed a lovely film. And the fact that it’s the first main stream film in ages I felt I would gladly watch again, more than being a thumb up to this one it’s a thumb down to practically the rest of them. An intelligent, good natured piece, which offers us a layer and a half of meaning instead of none – is that really such an unobtainable thing to ask for anymore?

And as Tee mentioned, it’s all about the writing (and you are spot on about Scott’s dependence on good material). This is not a somber, intensive or, God forbids, subversive take on its subject matter – it’s a reassuring, eager to please, Life affirming tale – the happy ending is a given – but it is a (seemingly) realistic fantasy made by adults who give the audience the benefit of a doubt of being ones too. As opposed to what the Screen Daily critic said – “The Martian suffers only from a failure to hit its emotional beats with the amount of force and feeling usually required to make this kind of life-and-death adventure really take off” - it’s exactly because they mostly avoided going for those big, edge-of-your-seat kind of dues-ex-machina twists (the shuttering yet totally believable explosion in the planthouse being the only one) that The Martian works so well. This almost low key approach IS the main asset of it.

And there are enough references and hints to the far more cynical realm we actually live in – the way the Jeff Daniels’ head of NASA operates, though somehow sugar coated, still allows us into the kind of politics of this kind of operation. And then there’s the casting of Damon – the Hebrew, somewhat not quite subtle, title of this film is Saving Mark Watney, and as was the case in Spielberg’s film, the PR nature of the situation, the he’s-the-blond-blue-eyed-all-American-boy-hence-he-must-be-saved aspect, while very subtly presented, is here. (And while - yes, Marco - there are some stars-and-stripes being waved here, they are, thankfully, mostly miniature ones and in a context of a global existance).

And it must be said – for those of us who hated a certain recent mega hit – The Martian is a welcome anti-Gravity. From the way it suggests that – what’d you know – time and distance are, well, factors out there to the way non American space programs are presented (the Chinese here are very much the white knight as opposed to a menacing entity for not making their own spaceships, designed for Chinese astronauts, linguistically friendly for an American one who happened to pop in). And most of all - while celebrating the resilience and creativity of a resourceful and capable individual - for making this all about a team effort and not a grotesque, infantile presentation of a God like, do it all by oneself, lone ranger. The no-man-is-an-island approach is a very welcome one in a big Hollywood Summer movie. It looks like it takes a Brit of a certain generation to do so (as I said regarding Thelma and Louise, I do suspect Scott has in him a long forgotten yet not totally dormant Marxist stroke, bless his soul).

The Original BJ
Posts: 4312
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: The Martian reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:40 am

I virtually co-sign everything Mister Tee wrote. I didn't think The Martian was anything more elevated than an entertainment...but I don't think solid entertainments have been in very high supply lately, and I found myself watching the movie appreciating a lot of what sets it apart from the current tentpole landscape. For starters, it has a plot that, while full of scientific detail (and I would add, detail that feels to my non-scientific brain like pretty well-researched stuff and not just nonsense), is fully comprehensible at every step. I know that sounds like a low bar for a movie to cross, but frankly, I watch the Marvel things and feel like I have no idea what's happening for half of the running time. So the fact that this movie appreciated the value of a well-told story was a real relief. And it's a story that takes the audience on a real journey -- beginning, middle, and end -- it doesn't just feel like a commercial for the next installment.

Perhaps most of all, I enjoyed its sense of humor. Although I liked The Dark Knight, I've found the Nolan-ization of the summer blockbuster to have fairly diminishing rewards -- I've found it hard to enjoy essentially lightweight movies that are so grim they barely even have a laugh in them. The Martian, though, finds room for seriousness -- I especially liked Damon's monologue to his parents -- but doesn't forget that there can be real pleasure in an adventure that actually provides an entertaining kick, rather than two and a half hours of glum.

I, too, think Damon is a real asset to the movie, both in grounding the drama in real pathos, and in finding off-kilter moments of humor. And, of course, if there's one thing Ridley Scott excels at, it's visual design, and his images here, from the spaceship effects to the harsh and gorgeous landscapes of Mars, don't disappoint. As I suggested, not a movie that's best of the year territory, but a perfectly pleasing chunk of popcorn.

My friend and I both laughed out loud as soon as the end credits song started to play, the perfect final joke on which to send out the audience.
Last edited by The Original BJ on Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mister Tee
Posts: 7165
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC

Re: The Martian reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:42 pm

I found this enormously enjoyable. Not say it's anything major; it's basically a summer movie -- but, don't go running away at that description. I mean an old-school summer movie -- back before the formula became stratified and Marvelized, when the idea was to come up with a fresh subject and compelling characters to engage you for two hours (witinghout worry about setting up a sequel). The film isn't without its antecedents: there are snatches of Gravity, Apollo 13 and Interstellar here. But it's an Interstellar that isn't full of itself; that's just out to get the audience engrossed in a good yarn.

And, importantly, that has Matt Damon center-stage. Damon's work here is not the sort that anyone -- me included -- would push for acting awards, but it's hard to overstate how good he makes the film. His character has a loosey-goosey attitude that brings moments of odd (and refreshing) humor, giving the whole film a "this is fun" vibe. (I can't remember the last Hollywood summer effort that achieved similar buoyancy.) He makes Watney a character whose rescue is important to us not because he's The Stranded Guy, but because he's someone we WANT rescued.

A friend of mine said, decades ago, that Ridley Scott was as good as his material -- that he'd always provide solid visuals, but, if his script was crap, so would be the film. When he does latch on to good material, though -- as with Thelma and Louise, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner and here -- he''s a total pro about making the film look visually striking. There are lots of gorgeous shots of the Mars landscape -- and the climactic moment between Damon and Chastain is staged beautifully: a pas de deux in weightless space. This is easily Scott's most enjoyable film in a long while.

Mister Tee
Posts: 7165
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC

The Martian reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:11 pm

This seems well-liked.

Two things: 1) This is the kind of thing -- decently serious, original -- that COULD nab a best picture slot in the up-to-ten era, despite its commercial orientation. 2) It'll be interesting to see if Oscar voters stick to their recent "originals over franchises" preference in the visual effects category and go for this over the sure-to-be-eyepopping new Star Wars movie.

Peter Debruge
Chief International Film Critic @AskDebruge

With ideas like cryogenic sleep and warp speed, the movies have a tendency to make space travel look easy. Not Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” an enthralling and rigorously realistic outer-space survival story in which Matt Damon plays a NASA botanist stranded on the Red Planet after a sandstorm forces his crewmates to abort mission. Like Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Damon’s “right stuff” hero has to get by on his own wits and “science the sh–” out of his predicament. It won’t be easy, but it is possible — and that’s the exhilarating thrill of both Andy Weir’s speculative-fiction novel and screenwriter Drew Goddard’s “science fact” adaptation. Considering that the United States hasn’t launched a manned space mission since 2011, “The Martian” should do far more than just make Fox a ton of money; it could rekindle interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of future astronauts.

As Mark Watney, Damon serves as the poster boy for these future space travelers, a good-humored, all-American team player who’s just 18 “sols” (or Martian days) into his mission when he is impaled by a communications antenna and left for dead by his colleagues during a forced evacuation. Watney is the lowest-ranking member of his team and the least equipped to handle such a situation — with one notable caveat: As a botany specialist, his assignment was to investigate whether plants could grow in an environment without fertilizer or water — and now, with only enough food to last 400 sols and the next planned mission nearly four years away, Watney’s ability to pull off that tall order will determine whether he lives or dies. Actually, there are a thousand different real-world things that could kill him, but it’s clear he won’t survive unless he manages to “cultivate” Mars.

Before “Gravity,” studio executives might have thought twice before greenlighting such a big-budget space drama (surely such Mars-set disappointments as “Red Planet,” “John Carter” and “Mission to Mars” must give them pause), and while a good portion of “The Martian’s” audience will surely be hoping for a repeat of Sandra Bullock’s white-knuckle experience, Scott has a different agenda altogether. After all, we’re talking about the man responsible for the second and third most influential sci-fi movies of all time (after “Star Wars”), and the director of such iconic pics as “Alien” and “Blade Runner” has better things to do than repeat himself — or anyone else, for that matter.

“The Martian” innovates once again, this time moving in the direction of the plausible to present the most realistic version Scott and his team can manage of a manned mission to Mars (with a few well-chosen stylistic flourishes, courtesy of costume designer Janty Yates). Though the film proves reasonably suspenseful in parts, Scott isn’t trying to generate the same realtime intensity as “Gravity” (in fact, “The Martian” takes place over nearly two years, demanding an altogether different pace), nor does he distract himself with attempting to pioneer the field of 3D filmmaking (though he does incorporate the technology in effective, yet nondistracting ways).

At its most basic, “The Martian” serves as an epic homage to the nerd — a deferential widescreen celebration of human intelligence in a genre that so often hinges on speed, braun or sheer Midochlorian levels (thanks for nothing, George Lucas). And while Watney may be stranded by himself on Mars, he’s anything but alone, with the best minds on earth working overtime to bring him home — if only he can figure out how to communicate with the good folks at Houston’s Johnson Space Center. Nothing brings the people of this planet together quite like space travel, and Scott manages to alternate between the immediate Reader’s Digest appeal of Watney’s sol-to-sol survival on Mars with the unifying impact his potential rescue has back on earth, where TV viewers follow every development and the Chinese even declassify a secret space program in order to help.

With no acid-dripping extra-terrestrials to menace him on Mars and no James Cameron-style greedy corporate villains ready to sacrifice him on earth (just Jeff Daniels, still in “The Newsroom” mode, as a pragmatic NASA honocho forced to make some tough calls), “The Martian” feels downright, well, Martian compared to the vast majority of space-travel dramas. It’s not without precedent, however. The sleek, science-friendly elegance of Arthur Max’s production design recalls “Silent Running” (another sci-fi parable with a botanist hero), its running series of logistical challenges echoes Arthur C. Clarke sequel “2010” and the highly visual, high-stakes decision making suggests Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine.” But instead of trying to scare people off space travel, Scott and company recombine these elements in hopes of inspiring a generation for whom the moon landing and shuttle missions are now ancient history, practically nostalgia, while the American space program sits mothballed.

While not propaganda per se, the film seeks to galvanize (rather than terrorize) those who might shape the future. That was the hollow promise “Tomorrowland” offered this past summer, featuring a feel-good epilogue in which its white heroes recruited a diverse range of talented young people around the world. But instead of waiting for that time to come, “The Martian” puts man’s potential for problem solving to to the test today, assembling a gender-balanced, multi-culti cast and combining their brightest ideas to save Damon’s character. This is Private Ryan we’re talking about, after all.

Scott recycles some of his cast (including mission commander Jessica Chastain) from Christopher Nolan’s eye-crossing “Interstellar,” in which Damon played an astronaut with far more sinister intentions, and though “The Martian” can be even more densely geek-speak in places, Goddard’s script manages to parse the technical jargon for lay viewers. As Michael Pena puts it, “But like in English, what would that be?” after his colleagues hit him with one of their more technical solutions. (Chastain and Pena share the return vessel with Kate Mara, Aksel Hennie and Sebastian Stan, while Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover and a half-serious Kristen Wiig brainstorm from the ground.)

Weir did his research when writing the novel, basing each of Watney’s MacGyver-like solutions (using recycled human waste to fertilize Thanksgiving potatoes, burning hydrazine rocket fuel to create water, etc.), as well as their subsequent setbacks (killer Martian frost, explosive chemical reactions), on scenarios that could reasonably arise on Mars. Scott carries that scrupulous adherence to science forward on the film, eschewing a more predictable suspense-movie score from composer Harry Gregson-Williams in favor of the sort of mellow musical chain-reaction heard in natural-science docs and Discovery Channel reality shows.

The idea here is to capitalize on the excitement of human ingenuity, the musical metaphor for which can be heard percolating behind the team’s every breakthrough— and they are a team. Whereas films prefer to cast heroism as the doing of a single rebellious soul, this one does justice to the idea (hammy when Michael Bay tries to show it, a la “Armageddon”) that truly amazing feats depend on the collaboration of exceptional people. In “The Martian,” we identify with Damon, but he couldn’t do it without the planet’s best behind him.

Rather than giving Watney a Wilson volleyball or HAL-like supercomputer to chat with, Goddard relies on another of the book’s “Robinson Crusoe”-like touches (Daniel Dafoe’s novel was written in the character’s voice and fooled early readers as a faux travelogue), giving him amusing “HAB journal” entries — or video diaries — in which to document his own progress. Though Watney has already proven his resourcefulness by doctoring his own puncture wound, his recordings serve the dual purpose of giving him a chance to explain complicated science ideas while endearing us to Damon’s naturally charismatic personality. The poor guy does his best to keep his mind active on Mars, but with only a collection of disco hits and “Happy Days” episodes to simulate human company, even the sanest astronaut would start to go a little stir crazy — although, admittedly, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” has seldom seemed a more appropriate anthem.

Hollywood Reporter
By Todd McCarthy
The Bottom Line
Ridley back in (a good) space.

Ridley Scott goes back to the future, a familiar destination for him, and returns in fine shape in The Martian. Although technically science fiction by virtue of its being largely set on a neighboring planet, this smartly made adaptation of Andy Weir’s best-selling novel is more realistic in its attention to detail than many films set in the present, giving the story the feel of an adventure that could happen the day after tomorrow. Constantly absorbing rather than outright exciting, this major autumn Fox release should generate muscular business worldwide.

Scott has famously been up in space before, thrillingly in Alien, far less so in Prometheus (a sequel to which he is currently preparing). This time, he’s telling a survival story, pure and simple, of an American astronaut, thought to be dead, who’s left behind on Mars when an enormous storm compels his five fellow crew members to hastily cut short their extra-planetary visit. It’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but without the monkey and aliens.

When Mark Watney (Matt Damon) regains consciousness after having been impaled by an errant antenna and knocked out, he quickly assesses the situation: He’s millions of miles from home and, based on the food supply, concludes that he’s got a month to live. But he’s by nature a can-do, optimistic kind of guy, a botanist by profession possessed of a sardonic, self-deprecating sense of humor, and decides that he has no intention of dying, even though the next Mars mission from home isn’t due to arrive for another four years.

Most of the early-going is devoted to the man making calculations as to how he can maximize his time on the arid planet, beginning by growing more potatoes from the ones he’s got (in part by using his own home-made manure). Living in the relatively spacious quarters he and his colleagues set up, Mark cannibalizes everything he can, carefully apportions his rations and settles in for the long term; at moments, the biggest threat to his sanity is the exclusive collection of ‘70s disco music left behind by one of his former astronauts.

The claustrophobia and solitariness of Mark’s situation is shortly broken up by events back on Earth. After Mark’s tragedy has been duly mourned by the public, a sharp-eyed NASA technician notices ground movement in her surveillance of the Martian surface that could only be Mark moving around. Communication is duly re-established, which ignites both elation at his survival and frantic assessments of what it would take, and cost, to launch a rescue mission.

Weir’s book is heavy with technical assessments of food and oxygen supplies, mechanical capabilities, flight duration and the physics of inter-planetary travel. Screenwriter Drew Goddard (World War Z, Cloverfield) has respected all these details while whittling them down to manageable and comprehensible levels. Officials at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (represented by a lively and individualistic cast including Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mackenzie Davis and Donald Glover) do everything they can to develop a feasible rescue plan and are ultimately helped out by a surprising foreign partner.

But ultimately it comes down to the willingness of Mark’s astronaut colleagues (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie) to place themselves at great risk by attempting a long-shot rescue attempt, a decision that raises the provocative moral dilemma of whether it’s correct to put five lives at great risk for the remote reward of saving one life.

Scott does generate a degree of suspense in this climactic stretch, but the film’s overall tone is dominated by the characters’ collegial humor, mutual respect among professionals and smart people being tested by an unprecedented challenge. The director and screenwriter downplay the conventional melodrama inherent in the situation in favor of emphasizing how practical problems should be addressed with rational responses rather than hysteria, knee-jerk patriotism or selfish expedience.

The result is an uncustomarily cheery and upbeat film from Scott, a number of whose works range from the despairing (Thelma and Louise, Black Hawk Down) to the nihilistic (Hannibal, The Counselor). There is also a sense that the meticulous sense of resourcefulness, the upbeat get-the-job-done attitude exemplified by Mark is very much akin to the director’s own, to the point that the optimistic lining common to both the novel and the film seems at one with the story itself and not an artificial, Hollywood-induced spin.

In significant measure due to his character’s mordant humor, which Goddard has slightly amplified from the book, Damon provides comfortable company during the long stretches when he’s onscreen alone, and the actor’s physicality makes Mark’s capability entirely credible. The scenes back on Earth provide a hectic, densely populated counterweight to the Martian aridity, which is magnificently represented by exteriors shot in the vicinity of Wadi Rum in Jordan, not far from where great stretches of Lawrence of Arabia were filmed.

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski turns the neat trick of providing the film with a fundamental documentary reality while also making a thing of great beauty. Extra attentiveness is amply on display in all creative departments.

Screen Daily
By John Hazelton

Dir: Ridley Scott. US. 2015. 130mins

Visually spectacular and consistently entertaining, Ridley Scott’s space rescue procedural The Martian suffers only from a failure to hit its emotional beats with the amount of force and feeling usually required to make this kind of life-and-death adventure really take off. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure; but maybe not quite enough of one – even with a perfectly cast Matt Damon as a plucky astronaut stranded on the Red Planet – to get viewers making repeat visits to the box office or to win over the hearts of award season voters.

A world premiere at Toronto will certainly set the Fox release up for what should be strong openings in the UK and Australia on Sept 30, in the US on Oct 2 and through most of the rest of the world before Christmas. In the long run, awards recognition might make the difference between a gross on the level of the somewhat comparable Gravity (which took $274m in the US and $449.1m internationally) and Scott’s earlier space adventure Prometheus (which managed $126.5m in the US and $276.9m elsewhere).

The source novel – eventually a best seller but originally self-published online by computer programmer-turned-author Andy Weir – is a science-heavy account, largely made up of written log entries, of how US astronaut Mark Watney survives after being left for dead during a near-future manned mission to Mars.

The film kicks off with Watney (Damon, whose last sci-fi outing was Elysium) being injured – apparently fatally – while the crew is leaving Mars to escape a massive storm. When he recovers, Watney, the mission botanist and mechanical engineer, starts putting his ingenuity to use in an effort to stay alive until the planned arrival of the next mission several years hence. Amongst other things, his efforts involve growing potatoes in human manure and jury-rigging a rover for dangerous journey across the planet.

Eventually, Watney makes contact with mission control, allowing the film to follow the desperate efforts of NASA and JPL scientists – played by Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sean Bean, among others – to mount a rescue mission and the heroic actions of the mission commander (Jessica Chastain, from Interstellar, in which Damon also had a small role) and her crew aboard the mission’s mother ship.

The storytelling techniques work well enough to keep the film engaging – though having characters read out messages as they type them gets annoying pretty quickly – and Scott keeps the pacing breezy and relatively light. There’s plenty of dry humour from Watney and from the eccentric scientists on earth consulting and sometimes clashing about the rescue mission. In fact, the film is often a bit too eager to please (overdoing, for example, the ironic use of cheesy seventies disco music).

Getting most of the book’s plot on screen also makes the film feel rushed, stopping it from milking dramatic moments and allowing the audience to share in Watney’s highs and lows of hope and despair. Damon is pleasantly watchable as the spirited and funny Watney, even if the other performers feel underused in what are for the most part rather one dimensional roles.Only in the climactic rescue sequence does the film deliver a really substantial emotional punch.

Three years after exploring the wonders of space in Prometheus, Scott, once again collaborating with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and production designer Arthur Max, delivers another striking vision of a distant world. He makes the most of awe-inspiring locations in Jordan’s Wadi Rum (also used in Prometheus and Red Planet) to stand in for the surface of Mars and uses 3D to immerse the audience in the desolate landscape that accentuates Watney’s isolation 140 million miles from home. It’s probably in the visual and effects departments that The Martian stands its best chance of earning winning awards.

Return to “2015”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest