The film centres around Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is stranded on Mars when he is presumed dead and chronicles his struggle to survive long enough for NASA to mount a rescue.
After years of disappointments and drawbacks, this once acclaimed director has finally silenced his critics. It currently stands at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and was named Film of the Year by the National Board of Review, also winning Best Director, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film has garnered three Golden Globe nominations and nine nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Calling The Martian a good film is an understatement. Ridley Scott is back and back with one of the best films of the year.
As is the case with all of Scott’s films, The Martian is visually gorgeous to look at. The visual effects and the blend of practical sets and CGI results in an amazing viewing experience in the cinema. As for the cast, just the star quality alone should draw people to watch this movie. This includes Jessica Chastain (who finally gets to go into space after Interstellar), Kristen Wiig (proving once again that she is good at drama), Jeff Daniels (not the character from Dumb and Dumber), Michael Peña (funnier in Ant-Man), Kate Mara, Sean Bean (in the one film he doesn’t die), Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sebastian Stan and Donald Glover.
Unlike The Counselor, Scott makes full use of the acting talent in this movie and needless to say, the acting in this film is simply outstanding. Matt Damon shines as the ‘titular’ character and besides thinking of how to grow food on an alien planet, virtually carries the entire film on his shoulders. Regardless, Damon delivers a masterclass performance and do not be surprised if he receives a nomination for Best Actor at the next Academy Awards. The film gives Damon the opportunity to flex his acting muscles as his character strives to overcome one obstacle after another. The dude basically encompasses the entire emotional spectrum throughout this film. Not necessarily the best of the year but his performance is definitely ranked up there.
Another element that might surprise audiences is just how comedic this film is. Not the dumb kind but smart, quirky and quippy lines that give a breath of life missing from Scott’s latest films and alleviates the heavy tension Watney often finds himself in. Surprisingly, for a film of its nature, the science is remarkably accurate, though necessary steps beyond the realm of believability are occasionally taken in order to further the story and develop the characters.
Furthermore, for a film already full of surprises, where it could have easily devolved into a depressing, moody state of affairs, The Martian resolutely maintains a tone of optimism. What makes The Martian a great film rather than a good one is that at its core, it is driven by emotion instead of science. In a time of films that seem intent on showcasing the dark side of humanity, The Martian presents a world of hope and unity, that despite our flaws as a race we will band together as one in the face of adversity and win. Ridley Scott is back – for now. Let’s wait and see whether The Martian is simply a once-in-a-blue-moon product or whether this once great director has finally recovered his director’s stripes.
Written by Darren Chew