I am a big fan of Ridley Scott, but his last few films (those that I’ve actually seen) haven’t been overly well received. However, he seems to have forgotten those past stumbles and is back on top form with The Martian. The story follows botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is left behind on Mars after being believed dead. However, he isn’t, and must try to survive on the harsh red planet until rescue is possible.
The movie hinges upon Damon’s performance. And he certainly delivers. The script doesn’t let him down once, allowing him to be funny yet serious and emotional too. His scenes take up at least half of the film and working alone could have proved disastrously boring and yet Damon shines and comes off at his most likable. The rest of the large and star studded cast also bring their a-games. The rest of Watney’s guilt ridden crew includes Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Aksel Hennie. All play the line between guilt and hope very well as the try to form a dangerous plan to save Watney. Also trying to save him through safer means are those in NASA HQ. These include Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Benedict Wong and Mackenzie Davis. All are equally well cast and acted, with Daniels’s portrayal of the NASA director particularly engaging as he tries to do the sensible thing, bringing him close to becoming the films only antagonist at some points.
The science is also very well handled. Whereas Interstellar would spend entire scenes explaining the science behind a certain concept, The Martian does it in mere seconds through Watney’s video diaries. The science makes enough sense that the audience can understand it but still seems complicated enough to cause problems for the characters. The humour really helps with this and the film is surprisingly funny, even at very tense moments.
Overall this is a real return to form it seems by Ridley Scott. Damon is excellent and Drew Goddard really deserves a lot of credit for the incredible script that keeps things both funny and tense, emotional and serious. A great film and a very enjoyable ride.
JACK’S SCORE: 5/5