The Martian: Matt Damon Stars in the Year’s Best Sci-Fi
Jeff DanielsJessica Chastain...
In 1 Cinema
After what seemed like a string of cinematic flops and creative washouts – yes, we mean you, The Counselor – revered director, Ridley Scott, has returned to form in the grandest of ways, delivering brilliantly-executed and stirring deep-space drama, The Martian.
Adapted to the screen by writer Drew Goddard – see 2012's Cabin in the Woods – The Martian doesn't waste any time before plunging into action, opening up with a violent dust storm hitting Mars, forcing the crew of Ares 3 to abort their mission and evacuate. However, after one of its crew-members – botanist-turned-astronaut, Mark Watney (Damon) – is hit with a large piece of debris and separated from the rest of the team, Captain Melissa Lewis (Chastain) is forced to make the tough call and leave him behind.
Hours later, Mark awakens in a pile of red dust, alone and seriously wounded. With his survival instinct very much intact, Mark quickly realises his predicament, as we follow his struggle for survival – especially considering that the next manned mission is no less than three hours away.
Based on Andy Weir's 2011 best-selling novel of the same name, there is plenty to love about this latest space-odyssey, which is not only distinguished by its stunning technical achievements, but also with a moving story of human strength and survival.
Surprisingly, humour plays a big role in the film and, for what it's worth, it's a welcoming feature to Scott’s work which manages to counterbalance the heavier elements of the plot. Beautifully sketched out, the cinematography is in a league of its own – shot mostly in the Jordanian red desert of Wadi Rum – and the CGI used to intensify the vastness of the red landscape serves to create an epic world within the film.
A perennial easy-to-root-for underdog, Damon offers a wonderfully layered performance – a combination of strength and fragility – and watching him alone on Mars is never dull and always engaging. Meanwhile, his esteemed co-stars – including Jeff Daniels as a NASA director and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the director of the mission– all to fit nicely into the overall plot and are given the space to make a mark.
Hollywood’s approach to space and other similarly sticky cosmic subjects has been under-going a significant change; subtlety, intelligence and scientific accuracy have largely replaced the flash and pizzazz of aliens, et al, and The Martian marks a huge, and much-needed, achievement for Scott and for Damon, whose part further cements his status as one of the biggest actors today.