Written by Drew Goddard / Directed by Ridley Scott / Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Jeff Daniels
Watney: Mark Watney, space pirate.
Ridley Scott, being no stranger to science fiction, has given us some of the most iconic and important genre films ever created. His directorial ability has showcased a wide range of genres, actors and themes, but I have always found that his sci-fi films (ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER and yes, even PROMETHEUS) were the most enjoyable. Adapting Andy Weir’s acclaimed novel THE MARTIAN into a full-on visual experience was absolutely the biggest sci-fi film I was looking forward to this year. Unfortunately THE MARTIAN felt cold and detached, much the same way Matt Damon’s character’s situation is in the movie.
While on a mission on Mars, a massive storm begins to stir on the planet, forcing the team to evacuate sooner than anticipated. But while rushing towards their ship, a piece of satellite debris hits Mark Watney (Damon) and, presumed dead, the crew leave him behind. Wounded and alone, Mark is able to send a communication back to NASA on Earth letting him know he is alive, much to the surprise of the organization, and the entire planet. Mark must learn to survive on a planet where nothing grows, and figure out a way to return home before his supplies run out.
The cast is full of stars of every imaginable calibre, from Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean to Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig and even Donald Glover. But unfortunately the acting ability of all involved just isn’t utilized the way it should have been. THE MARTIAN is a callous experience; instead of focusing on Mark having an existential crisis triggered by the fact that he is utterly alone on an entire planet, the film sticks to a very technical and scientific approach.
There is still plenty of excitement to make THE MARTIAN a decent enough thriller, just one that may appeal more to the geekier amongst you. It is book ended by some incredible tension and a few moments of humanity here and there, but ultimately the movie left me feeling a little nonplussed and honestly underwhelmed. Sure, the science is fascinating, the costumes and sets are beautiful, the space scenes are stunning, but its lack of emotion and a humanistic approach to this very human dilemma just didn’t sit well with me.