Today I watched Ridley Scott’s The Martian (2015)
I actually caught this flick back in October but withheld this review as the film most certainly does not fit into that month’s mandatory theme. Hard science fiction is quite a rarity in the world of cinema but has recently become more popular with such films as Gravity, Interstellar (which is only hard sci-fi for about two thirds of the film), and this film. The Martian is about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, naturally, and both his and NASA’s attempts to get him home alive.
While the film has the structure of a modern Hollywood space disaster movie, The Martian takes a swerve and puts the vast majority of it’s focus on the aftermath and recovery from said disasters. There is very little true ‘action’ in this film, the times when things are exploding, crashing, and burning are very brief. But this is not a slow or boring movie, it is a movie where the real action is in people building things, fixing things, and generally trying to get machines to work in situations they were not meant for.
Matt Damon heads up a cast that is impressive both in quality and quantity. Damon is an actor who I have always found a little on the flat side, that being said this may be one of his best performances. Since this is not a film about suffering, Damon does a great job of expressing his sense of humour and how he uses that as a coping mechanism while stranded on an alien world. The rest of the cast don’t have a weak component among them, to me the most notable beyond Damon were Kristen Wiig, who gives a great dramatic performance that outshines most of her comedic work to me. And of course the living legend that is Chiwetel Ejiofor does what he does best and makes some of NASA’s less economically credible decisions in the film seem more realistic.
I suppose I am just adding my voice to the choir in regards to this movie, but ye, like most other critics I quite enjoyed this film. In modern cinema most sci-fi is quite pessimistic and critical of humanity at large, so it is great to see this film’s significantly more optimistic take. The film does not ignore or avoid the existence of strife, it just focuses instead on the recovery than on the injury. And the method of that recovery is cooperation and ingenuity, science and friendship, which is a theme I can damn well get behind. 5/5