By: Muneeb Arshid
The Martian, I believe, is the comeback film for director Sir Ridley Scott after the disappointment of Prometheus and the wretchedness of Exodus: Gods and Kings. It features a cast that would be quicker for you to search up on your favourite movie database than me listing each and everyone here. But the important person is “The Martian” himself, Matt Damon playing Mark Watney. And to start with, this movie was absolutely golden in terms of the visuals, the comedic factor and the overall “gripiness” of the plot.
There is so much to say about The Martian, but I think the first thing the viewer notices is the scenery and the visuals. The movie starts off right in the heart of Mars; and even though it’s filmed in the Jordanian desert, the accuracy in which the Martian landscape is captured is absolutely gorgeous. The Scientifical anomaly that is the opening storm that strands Mark on Mars is beautifully done in its scope even if the reported 150 mph winds on Mars should have just been a slight breeze. But I’m not about to use that detail to bash on the movie, rather it uses what is found in Andy Weir’s source and integrates absolutely beautifully.
Now, in terms of being true to its source, there are maybe 2-3 missteps, which if you’ve read the book before (or after) the movie, you will notice very clearly. However, I truly believe that films should be able to stand on its own merit without having to be constantly compared to its source and The Martian’s adaptation by Drew Goddard is done in a way where even though the deviations are there in the movie, you immediately let it go because of all that’s going on with the film all around you.
The performances are very good, especially the very nuanced and quite accurate portrayal of Mark Watney by Matt Damon. The jokes that made the book such a delight to read were delivered on point by Damon and honestly the movie was a lot funnier than many of the comedies that have played in theatres this year. Jessica Chastain’s character portrayal of Commander Lewis was very nuanced and a perfect casting to play someone who had the range of emotions needed for first, believing she had left Mark for dead on Mars, and then finding out that she had left her crew mate behind. Back on Earth, Jeff Daniels is in full Will McAvoy form. There really is no performance in this movie that can be at fault and were played absolutely to a tee.
The plot itself is a rollicking affair in which the 140 minute run time does not feel long at all at any point throughout the film. The performances are excellent on Mars, on Earth and in Interstellar space. This truly is a case which showcases why Ridley Scott is known as a great sci-fi director. It does harp back to his directorial performances of Blade Runner and Alien, but you wouldn’t want to compare this to those, however, it’s not a million miles away.
The Martian gets an A and a well-done sticker for Sir Ridley.