After Prometheus and Alien: The Covenant Ridley Scott again shows with The Martian his incredible talent when it comes to space films. Ridley Scott presents a film about space travel, isolation and ingenuity. But while his previous movies where completely sci-fi, this time it’s a quite realistic story. The film is an adaptation of the best-seller The Martian written by the American novelist Andy Weir.
When Mark Watney, botanist and astronaut, is presumed dead and left behind on Mars after a heavy dust storm, it doesn’t look so good for him. Without any contact with Earth his situation seems desperate. He’s wounded, totally alone and he has no way of getting back. But here’s when the coolest part starts. Since astronauts have an extremely wide training and knowledge, Mark has to science the shit out of this. Literally. Here’s where Project PooTato enters: He must farm potatoes on a planet where nothing grows with the poo of his fellow crewmates in order not to starve. With this and many other things, the film is full of scientific and technical features. It does not get to complicated for the common watcher, rather accessible and fun, by explaining things with simple terms (like referring to Iron Man). That’s a big deal when you’re dealing with a diverse audience. While he tries to survive, his shocked crewmates and NASA are trying to come up with a way of saving him.
I loved the film myself a lot because of all the science in it. The most astonishing fact was the realism. True, it’s in the future 2030s, but it gives the spectators an accurate view on what the future expeditions to Mars may look like. That’s the result of a huge collab between the moviemakers and NASA, which I think is really nice. My favorite moments in the film are the moments Watney is “beating” Mars’ environment with his incredible ingenuity.
But the most astonishing beautiful scene is when Watney becomes emotional when his crew mates are finally there to save him. That moment is extremely powerful.
The main character, Mark Watney, is portrayed by Matt Damon, standard first choice if the film studios are looking for a gifted but ordinary hero. He broke trough with Good Will Hunting (1997), whereby he won an Academy Award. In 2016 he also received a Golden Globe Award with The Martian.
Matt Damon does not show us the stereotype, cold-blooded, emotionless astronaut but mainly puts the focus on the human aspect, specifically the psychological facet. While he travels through the Martian landscape, he has a lot of time to think. He comes to some intriguing insights: he’s the first person to be alone on a planet; everywhere he comes he’s the first. It all has a serious psychological and emotional impact on a human being. Some people even think he turned crazy: Since Mars, by definition, belongs to international waters, he asks ground control to call him Captain Blond Beard. It’s was a difficult leading role for Matt because the character is the main part of the film on his own, but he does everything perfectly.
Another great acting performance was that of Jessica Chastain. She played the role of Melissa Lewis, the commander of the mission. She shows how hard it can be for a leading person to take difficult decisions. This is again a nice psychological aspect of how astronauts really are.
Other great aspects of the film were the shots of the Mars landscape. The external scenes were filmed in Wadi Rum, Jordan. This location has been used for numerous other films set on Mars, including The Last Days on Mars (2013), Red Planet (2000) and Mission to Mars (2000). Also, plus points for the iron-strength script, supported with visual spectacle. Thrill and excitement at its best, although there are also many quiet moments, but they’re important for the story line.
Until the end it remains uncertain whether or not the rescue operation will succeed, and you are on the edge of your seat. The Martian was rightly nominated for seven Oscars, but unfortunately did not win one.
In the end The Martian is a whirling spectacle with beautiful scenes and tremendously good acting performances that’s able to fascinate young and old from beginning till end. If Ridley Scott will continue to make movies, he’ll definitely be mentioned in the trailer as “from the director of The Martian”. I would certainly add this movie to the select group of good space movies like Interstellar and Gravity.
A must watch!
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