Release Date: October 2, 2015
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard (screenplay), Andy Weir (book)
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover, Nick Mohammed, Chen Shu, Eddy Ko, Enzo Cilenti, Jonathan Aris, Gruffudd Glyn, Naomi Scott
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 141 minutes
Production Company: Genre Films, International Traders, Mid Atlantic Films, Scott Free Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
How do you make one of the greatest films of all time (Gladiator), then disappear to return fifteen years later as if nothing happened? It feels like it’s been that long since director Ridley Scott has given general audiences anything worthy for a theatrical outing. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it has been a while. ‘Black Hawk Down, American Gangster,’ and maybe one other were all great films, but Scott has shot more bad than good behind the camera lately. While ‘The Martian’ is a great film, and Scott’s return to form, it isn’t as remarkable as ‘Gladiator.’ Though most movie goers, including myself, wasn’t expecting it to be, Matt Damon still has a fantastic performance, as a struggling astronaut, just trying to make it home. It has a great story, is surprisingly hilarious, and has a star studded cast to complement each frame. I enjoyed the film in all its greatness, and can’t wait to witness it again.
I love a film that doesn’t waste its time, and this film gets right to the point from the jump. Immediately you’re thrown into the crisis, and there’s only one objective. To get home. On the surface it may appear to be another version of ‘Cast Away’, with one man alone talking to himself, praying for company. It’s the exact opposite, with the film successfully selling isolation, and containing the ability to manage the rest of the cast organically. It knew when to bounce back and forth between Earth, and Mars to keep your attention from fading. The exposition used served the story, and the audience, as Mark Watney (Matt Damon) recorded his daily routines. I felt the passing of time with each day, week, and passing months as Mark Watney struggled to survive. As the trailers stated he had to, “science the shit” out of the situation, which was fun and informative. It was his effort, and science that was most entertaining about the film. With every obstacle that arose Mark didn’t give up, and fought with all his might to come out on top.
It seems like everyone in Hollywood had a role in this film. That usually means disaster is right around the corner, but this time Ridley Scott handled it in the best of ways. Some actors/actresses had very little screen time, or cornered only a portion of the film, but still had impactful moments. Saving a man from Mars is without saying an extremely stressful situation, and every single cast member (known name) had a significant role to bring home the bacon. Every character was as different as the next color in the box, yet you still loved them all. Everyone involved was cemented into the mission as if their own life was on the line. Half of theirs literally was, but treated the mission as if it were family.
While the film is certainly fantastic, one aspect that made it so great was also its downfall. To qualify for a mission to Mars, it’s obvious you have to be beyond smart and talented. I’m assuming you also have to show strong will-power, and the strength not to give up, on top of another mountain of crazy pre-requisites. The film took all these into consideration, but didn’t spend enough time creating danger or enough suspense. For someone so intelligent, it would’ve been nice to see Mark Watney panic. I never did. During the whole film I just knew Matt Damon’s character was going to get rescued. If he actually did or not, I recommend you find out yourself. Every time a problem arose Mark Watney had the solution five seconds later. Over, and over, and over again it’s as if he had a pocket of one-hundred lives to spare. I also praised the film earlier for being hilarious, but during majority of the time it felt too funny. I understand how necessary it is to stay positive, and have good spirits given this situation. Though my problem is other than one particular scene where the crap really hit the fan, Mark Watney is just joking, and carrying along, as if his friend is only seven minutes late from picking him up from work.
Other than what I just noted, and ‘Gravity’ beating this film in a detailed shot of space towards the end, ‘The Martian’ delivered beyond I’d hoped. It was an exciting ride, and surprised my senses to the core. Matt Damon is a phenomenal actor of course, and he’s surrounded by others just as talented. I’m so happy to see director Ridley Scott back on the positive side of directing. He’s been hit or miss lately, but this one was knocked out the park. The film also has positive undertones, about the power of teamwork which warms you up inside. I’m smiling as I write this, and can’t wait to add this film to my personal collection of wonderful filmmaking.