By Fawwaz Ahmed (London)
By this late stage, I’m sure nearly all of you reading this have seen The Martian. But for those of you who haven’t, or if you’re here to recount on the genius, here’s a quick summary:
Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) and his team, led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) are exploring as explorers do on the red planet, gathering scientific information. The mood is light hearted and all seems to be going well until Martinez (Michael Penã) alerts the crew about an incoming storm. The scientists eventually get inside through the rage of the storm, attempt to get back to Martinez in the spaceship and in doing so lose their man Watney who gets smashed by some flying debris. Thus, the crew is forced to leave without him. Watney wakes up to find he’s alive, and so the struggle to get home begins.
Now the thing that really stood out to me in this movie was the major theme of humanity. It’s present from the get go when the crew are conflicted in leaving Watney, even though they think he’s dead. Back on planet Earth, they become aware of Watney’s survival and they all work together to (as the tagline says) bring him home. It makes you feel good and really think that maybe there is some good in all of us.
The comedy in this movie is unexpected but very welcome. The writers really played it in perfectly without forcing it. Watney cracks up the audience in times of incredible danger. His optimistic attitude is so warm which teaches us all a lesson or two about positive thinking and not losing hope.
Damon seems to feed off this comedy because his performance in this movie is quite stunning. He portrays his emotions to really make us feel for him and connect. The audience are rooting for him so strongly within 10 minutes of the movie. When things do start to go south on him, with one scene in particular, Damon steps it up and uses all his acting tools to show us the pain Watney feels.
Every actor in the movie does their job wonderfully to be fair. Kate Mara, Kristen Wigg, Sean Bean and even The Winter Solider, erm I mean, Sebastian Stan. The two supporting roles that really stood out to me were Jeff Daniels and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Daniels plays the main man at NASA, and he really does a great job of not turning into some evil “It’s all about the money we don’t care about Watney” type of character. Ejiofor really lays into his role, you’ll forget he’s lovely Chiwetel during this movie and purely see him as Venkat Kapoor. He is arguably the main presence on Earth.
The cinematography is also beautiful, the shots are breathtaking. The movie was definitely shot on Mars and it looks stunning. Nice holiday location. Ridley Scott is visibly stamped on this movie too, the tension is almost unbearable at certain times, especially in the final act. I wouldn’t say it’s a full comeback just yet for the director, we’d need to see at least one more great movie to ensure this since the plot of the movie is all pre-written in the book, but he is definitely half way there. A brilliant visionary, he will always be.
Now everyone has talked about how the Earth scenes take away from the movie because they’re too long or whatever, but really I loved them just as much as Damon’s shots on Mars (because you know, they went to Mars to shoot). The Earth scenes were essential to the plot and backed up that theme of humanity I mentioned, as you see the real extreme effort, money and time being put into getting Watney home, even though he is just a single life. It makes you feel proud.
If I had one criticism of The Martian, it would have to be that I didn’t like how Watney’s purpose of getting home so bad wasn’t fully explored. We hear mention of his parents only once, and even though it provoked quite an emotional moment in the movie, it only happens once and it’s clear that they’re not the real reason he wants to get back. For me personally, they could have explored his purpose a bit more as it adds credibility to why he keeps fighting to stay alive and it would have also added some extra emotional depth to the movie.
I also want to mention the science because it really was great. The Martian proves that science is cool, we see Watney make water in space, grow food on a planet “where nothing grows” and most importantly blow some stuff up. It’s all accurate as well, trust me, I’ve tried it all. My house is on fire now but, oh well, I’m basically Matt Damon.
So overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian. The feel good factor is compelling, the acting by Damon and supporting cast is fantastic and SCIENCE! I would have liked a tad more of purpose to Watney’s struggle, but a lack of this doesn’t take away from the movie too much.BEST QUOTES