If you are one of the few people who haven’t watched the new Ridley Scott movie, The Martian yet then you might want to get around to going to see this massive blockbuster. Starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney, The Martian is one of those movies that you watch and instantly know you are witnessing movie history.
The story is based upon the sci-fi novel published by super geek Andy Weir and centres around a maned mission to Mars where one astronaut is mistaken for dead and gets left behind. Not only is Mars super far away and it takes long to go fetch someone and bring them home, but it’s also not so easy for humans to survive on this red dust-covered planet because of its lack of oxygen, freezing temperatures, lack of water, etc. Watney‘s opening line is “I am pretty much fucked” and it perfectly sums up his predicament – he is on an uninhabited planet by himself, he is badly injured, he has extremely limited supplies and resources and basically no chance of surviving. He sulks around a little, but soon pulls himself together and decides to not die on Mars. NASA soon learns that Watney is not dead as was believed and a very dangerous and nerve-wrecking rescue mission ensues.
Matt Damon as Mark Watney is so convincing you’ll very soon forget the blue-eyed all-American good guy and only see the witty Watney as he pioneers his own survival. You might not see any action scenes from Damon like you got in the Bourne franchise but that doesn’t mean his performance isn’t physical. Damon transforms physically completely on-screen from a healthy, clean-cut astronaut to a ragged and severely skinny space cowboy. Matt Damon owns the role and emerges into this character in a very solid performance which covers basically every emotion you can think of from joy to devastation, from mania to a sense of calm. As the world cheers for Watney‘s return to earth in The Martian, so do you eventually and you’re heart breaks, flutters and stops for this guy throughout the movie. You can’t help but fall for Watney and cheer for his return to earth as he is a true survivor and encapsulates the strength of the human spirit, even on alien planets. It is a mighty task for one actor to basically carry a movie, with Damon joining other greats like Tom Hanks who did the same in Castaway. But Damon comfortably occupies the screen by himself and holds his own to portray a man who is confident in himself, yet has a true understanding of his own mortality. It’s a treat to watch the character develop and come to grips with a whole mess of emotions.
Other great performances were delivered by Kirsten Wiig as Annie Montrose and Jeff Daniels as Teddy Sanders, the Director of NASA. Donald Glover killed it as the nerdy and nutty Rich Purnell, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Venkat Kapoor delivered an extremely compelling performance and immediately draws you in.
The Martian doesn’t only tell an entertaining story, it also tells a rather scientifically accurate story. And if you’re into space stuff then you are really in for something spectacular when you watch this movie, especially in 3D. The shots featuring Watney in complete isolation against the vast and harsh Mars surroundings will evoke a true sense of emptiness and mortality in you. It’s also great to know that many of the Mars scenes are very accurate to what scientist and astronomers believe the planet to be like.
If you’re into geeky, nerdy space stuff (and 80s disco music) then you’re in for a treat as well, with the main character, Watney proclaiming at some point that he is going to have to “science the shit out” of a situation. I don’t want to ruin too much for you, but there are plenty of geek pop culture references in The Martian that fans will adore. If you’re into science, space, tech and gadgets then you’re also in for one helluva geek-out session when you go watch this movie as it features everything from how to make your own water to flying through space like Iron Man. Even though the movie is set 20 years into the future, a lot of the tech and science is possible today, giving the movie an authentic, documentary feel.
The Martian is geek gold and no matter who you are, it probably has something for you. It’s funny, yet emotionally gripping largely thanks to the ever so charming Matt Damon’s portrayal of the witty Mark Watney. The landscape shots and space scenes are magnificently executed and you’re taken on a true sensory as well as emotional ride. The movie is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions from you regarding your place in the massive universe as well as make you extremely aware of your own mortality, without being too heavy and you’re sure to go home smiling. The movie might be a bit corny at times, but that’s a good thing as space exploration doesn’t always have to be portrayed as this gloomy experience where you are either bound to die or lose a pal. The Martian succeeds in entertaining us, while at the same time reviving our curiosity in terms of space exploration by enticing us with a feel good story that works out well for everyone.