It’s a handy promotional tool for Ridley Scott’s The Martian.
The hopeful tone of the film echoes that of other recent science fiction successes at the box office. This space movie isn’t just about the adventure of space but the loneliness of it, all that space and nothing to keep you company but the disco music that one of your crew mates left behind. It sounds like Castaway, but on a deserted red planet with no volleyball named Wilson. Sometimes the situation is too impossible that the passable answer is as Watney says at one point (paraphrased for language), “I’m going to have to science the heck out of it”.
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew.
At the center of it all, Damon gives a quietly intense performance as the stranded astronaut. His low-key charm pays off as the actor shows Watney deploying his intelligence and a wickedly droll humor through tiny victories and life-threatening setbacks. This applies to almost everyone in the film, particularly the beleaguered director of NASA Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and Mark’s guilt-ridden commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). Do they tell his crewmates, who are still en route to Earth but lack sufficient supplies to turn around and rescue him? He’s also good at maths, and blowing things up – including himself.
If you at all like what we do at Motherboard and are for some reason still wondering whether you should see The Martian or not, let’s just make it clear right now: There are few movies whose themes align so closely with what we care about here, and there are few movies that pull off their basic premise so well.
When you have Jessica Chastain, Jeff Bridges, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Donald Glover and Kristin Wiig at your disposal, you use them. The plot has many elements that weave a clever story here and it is not always clear what is going to happen next. Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, who previously worked with Scott on Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counselor, adds his magical touch.
“The Martian” is a rock “n” roll rescue pic created to make audiences high five over their tubs of popcorn. The Drew Goddard adapted screenplay is much lighter and funnier than Iterstellar and most “stranded survival” films of its kind.
The cinematography will blow you away, and it’s done by a real master, Dariusz Wolski. One of the best scenes involves a Lord of the Rings joke with Sean Bean in the room. It’s not only a visually astounding experience, continuing the modern space travel movie legacy after Gravity and Interstellar, but it’s so optimistic and hopeful. But it’s not. In fact this instant classic sci-fi flick doesn’t require as much thinking on quantum physics. That was the premise of 1964’s “Robinson Crusoe on Mars”, except the astronaut was accompanied by a resourceful monkey.
Spoiler Warning: We strongly urge everyone to actually see the film before reading ahead, as there may be spoilers below.
Put The Martian on your must see list and check it out in a theatre. “So one does ask the question – “a billion years ago, was Mars like us”?” Besides the set and cinematography, the acting is top notch.