Back in familiar territory, Ridley Scott directs The Martian, an extra-terrestrial drama starring Matt Damon as a stranded astronaut, adapted from Andy Weir’s bestselling 2011 novel. Bearing a notable resemblance to 2013’s Gravity, it remains to be seen whether it has the power to match up to its record in the coming awards season, but what it does offer is a crowd-pleasing mixture of thrills, laughs and epic visuals that are sure to make anyone glad they purchased a ticket.
An exploratory manned mission to Mars turns sour in The Martian as team botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left stranded after a surprise storm forces the crew to leave him behind and presume him dead. Abandoned on a lifeless planet with limited supplies, Watney must find a way to survive and communicate with Earth to stand a chance of ever escaping his new home. Featuring a starry cast including Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniel and Kristen Wiig, The Martian gives them all ample chances to shine, none more so than its lead.
There is no doubt Matt Damon is an extremely talented actor, and after a supporting role in 2014’s Interstellar, he is given the chance to show what he can really take a lead role of a sci-fi character facing the reality of being lost in space. He delivers a solid performance as the resilient, hopeful astronaut, full of clever one-liners that never fail to generate laughs. Worth a mention is the appropriately rigid performance of Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber) as Teddy Sanders, the head of NASA forced to find a way to make a costly rescue mission a practical PR move. Much like the hefty fictional NASA expenditure, no expense seems to have been spared on the sets of the film, as there is a flawlessly realistic sheen to Watney’s Martian base and the spaceship that left him behind. The visuals are breathtaking and create a world it is easy to become instantly immersed in.
It is a truly gripping film, which despite its long-running time doesn’t let go of its audience for a second. Based on a book praised for its scientific accuracy, it is an intelligent movie with enough maths and science incorporated to convince anyone of its plausibility. And while Ridley Scott may be back in space, there isn’t one parasitic alien in sight – which is definitely good news.
The Martian is released nationwide on 30th September 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Martian here: