Directed by Ridley Scott
Based on the novel The Martian by Andy Weir
Screenplay by Drew Goddard
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor
After being separated from his crew and presumed dead, botanist Mark Watney (Damon) is alone on Mars. Now he’s using all of his skills to survive and find a way to let earth know that he’s alive.
This science fiction film is based on The Martian, a novel by Andy Weir. The film was directed by Oscar nominee Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) utilizing a screenplay written by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods). The film stars Matt Damon (The Departed), Jessica Chastain (Interstellar), Jeff Daniels (Looper), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave). Michael Peña (Fury), Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Aksel Hennie (Headhunters) are also featured.
This story is an excellent mix of action, suspense, drama, and even a little comedy. All of these aspects are wrapped up within a wonderful science-fiction framework. This framework includes building a world where travel to Mars seems to fit. The film also does a nice job confining itself to the moments that matter. While it’s acknowledged that the main characters have family and friends, the film doesn’t stray from the right course. The film also does a nice job of staying tonally even. While there are lighter and darker moments, the movie never feels unbalanced. Another great aspect of the film is the constant need to solve the problems of the characters. The movie doesn’t cheat viewers with vague explanations. Instead, the film finds a way to help the characters solve their problems in ways that work within the world of the film. While there are a handful of weaker moments, this one succeeds far more often than not. It’s a great story and a really good adaptation.
The acting in this movie does all the right things to keep the world of the movie intact. This all starts with Matt Damon’s excellent performance. (I don’t think he’s done work this good since True Grit.) The isolated nature of his role needed a strong performance that would connect with the audience. Damon handled this nicely, and also managed to keep things lighter. Those light moments add to the balanced feel of a movie that could’ve easily become dark and depressing. The work from Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is also great. These three handled the emotional highs and lows of their roles wonderfully.
The film also features great work from Michael Peña, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie. These three all found the right ways to make their roles work within the bigger story. Like the rest of the cast, these three seemed to find balance in the emotions of their characters. Overall, this film got great work from a large cast of talented actors.
This film also looks incredible. Between great digital effects and a number of wonderful locations, this movie really made the story feel real. The movie was film mainly at Korda Studios in Hungary, the location of one of the world’s largest sound stages. The movie was editing nicely, and maintains a great pace.The sound work is also good. Between music chosen for the film and the music composed by Harry Gregson-Williams (Gone Baby Gone).
Ridley Scott was fortunate to have the assistance of NASA in bringing the science within this film to life. Throughout production the filmmakers had access to all kinds of information that NASA gave them in an effort to make this more authentic. While this is a great advertising tool for NASA, the film doesn’t suffer from any “shameless plug” moments. Instead, this one serves as a great look into the possibilities of space travel.
This movie succeeds in almost every aspect. While there are some moments that feel a little out-of-place, nothing really distracts from the great story. The acting and the visuals really make this come to life in all the right ways. In many ways, this movie seems to bring space to life better than any film I’ve ever seen. The drama and action really add to the success of the science fiction aspects of this movie. I give this one 4.7 out of 5 stars.