In association with The Grosvenor
Based on the best-selling novel from Andy Weir, The Martian tells the story of astronaut and botanist Mark Watney who is left for dead on the barren plains of Mars after a storm forces his crew to abandon their mission. While his heartbroken crewmates begin the long voyage home and NASA scientists announce his death to the world, Watney awakes to a nightmare. Stranded on a dead planet Watney manages to repress his dread and instead puts his mind to solving the plethora of technical issues that threaten his survival, fully aware that even the slightest mistake will kill him.
While sheer will power and intelligence may keep him alive, Watney’s only chance of getting home lies solely in the hands of NASA scientists and engineers. That is, if they even know he’s alive.
With that rather demoralising set up, The Martian proves it’s brilliance in its ability to maintain a humorous and hopeful atmosphere in such a bleak situation. This is in no small part due to the genuinely human characters portrayed perfectly by the star studded cast including Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, and Oscar winner Chiwetel Ejiofor. However, stealing the spotlight is the compelling performance from the only man on Mars himself, Matt Damon.
Damon’s charismatic presence makes everyday genius Watney come across not only fun and relatable, but also fascinating to observe as a man struggling to nullify his own emotions in the face of his own imminent demise. The loneliness, the fear, the desperation — it’s all there bubbling just below the surface. Between the jokes about using his own shit for fertiliser or his commander’s appalling music taste, there are brief moments when his emotions break through dramatically and it’s enough to change the entire tone of the film in a split second dragging the audience back to the harsh reality.
The captivating story can easily stand on its own as a piece of art, but the simply breath taking visuals and subtle score bring the desolate beauty of the red planet to life. It may or may not mark a return to form for director Ridley Scott, but The Martian is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year.
[Andrew McIntyre – @_andymcintyre]