Extra post for you all this week! Now initially I had no real interest in seeing The Martian, every space movie is essentially the same right? But my Dad wanted to see it and so I went with him, and actually I’m glad I went because this film is possibly one of the best I’ve seen for a while. Directed by Ridley Scott – who’s made a fair few space movies before, including Alien which I studied at University – I think it’s safe to say that Ridley knows what he’s doing when it comes to creating a realistic idea of space and other planets. He certainly does a very good job here!
So the story of The Martian starts with a group of astronauts on Mars gathering various data from the planet. Their mission was to be up there for a set amount of time and then return home, however halfway through their mission – where we join them – a sudden storm hits and they must make a hasty escape off the planet. During the course of their escape, one of the group – Mark Watney (Matt Damon) – is hit by flying debris and no contact can be made. Presuming him dead the crew make the hard decision to leave without him. Miraculously, Watney is still alive and so the challenge begins for him to stay alive on Mars with limited oxgyen, food and water, long enough for NASA to find a way to get him back home.
There’s an awful lot of science talk throughout but I just about managed to keep up! It helps that Watney talks us through everything in the form of video diaries which he starts in order to record his time on Mars in case he doesn’t make it. There is surprisingly a lot of humour too, mainly from Watney and his dry sense of humour at what is happening to him, but this helps to lighten up the film and stops it from being too intense. The film is over 2 hours long so if the humour wasn’t there is would have been very heavy going!
Visually this film is stunning. I don’t know where they filmed the segments on Mars or even how they got it so realistic, but you genuinely feel like you are witnessing actions on another planet. There is the added touch of text appearing on the screen counting how long Watney has been up there, as well as characters names and positions within NASA appearing when newly introduced to us. This helps us to keep on top of who is who and how much time has passed, for it’s not that quick and easy to rescue someone from Mars! Predictably a lot of things go wrong and new challenges occur for Watney and the NASA team at home, all of which will keep you glued to your seats. Towards the end when things weren’t looking good, my heart was in my mouth and I was silently willing Watney to survive. I won’t spoil the ending and say whether he survives or not, you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself to find out!
Matt Damon is fantastic as Mark Watney, he really makes you connect to his character and marvel at his knowledge at ways to survive whenever a new problem occurs. Matt is the central character of the film but a lot is shown of the NASA team behind the mission and their attempts to save him. This team includes a list of well known actors who all bring out exceptional performances, these names include: Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Donald Clover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mackenzie Davis. It’s particularly nice to see Kristen Wiig in a more serious role, showing us that she is definitely an all-rounder when it comes to acting.
The big names don’t stop there though, Watney’s fellow astronauts include Jessica Chastain and Kate Mara as well as Michael Pena, Aksel Hennie and Sebastian Stan. All of which are superb in their roles as they first deal with leaving their friend behind believing him to be dead, to then learning that they left him still alive and then ultimately their determination in going back to rescue him, risking their own lives in the process. Personally I was very happy to see that Jessica Chastain was playing the part of Lewis, the Commander of the team, having a woman in charge with no complaints from the men in the team was brilliant to see. At no point was it questioned whether she was good enough to lead them, particularly when they decide to go against NASA and retrieve Watney themselves, leaving all decisions ultimately up to Lewis. It wasn’t brought up because it was never an issue. The whole team had full faith in Lewis and her abilities and followed her every command. This effectively made the team stronger and you could see a real bond between them all.
Overall, The Martian is definitely a must see. From the cast to the visual effects everything is stunning and it will keep you gripped the whole way through! One downside to long films is that you often find yourself hoping you’re near the end as they go on for too long, but here I wasn’t even aware of the time. The only thing I could pick at would be one scene when Watney performs a little surgery on himself, something which I could probably have done without seeing…! Other than that, it’s a truly excellent film.