Friday, October 9, 2015

The Martian Review: Ridley Scott Film Soars Through The Stars

The concept of being stranded is nothing new to world of movies. Many film have catered to the concept of a character being deserted in a remote location, where they must find a way to survive the harsh environment. With so many movie featuring this idea, how could one possibly make it different? How about having the movie taking place on another planet. This is the case for the new sci-fi adventure film: The Martian. Based on the novel by Andrew Weir, The Martian is directed by none other than the claimed filmmaker: Ridley Scott. While Scott is no stranger to the concept of space, the famed director's recent track record has been nothing to praise. So for this Film Adventurer, being excited for this blockbuster was quite the task So was The Martian another hit for Ridley Scott, or should this film remain lost in space?

The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) and the crew of the Hermes; who are excavating the planet Mars. When a freak storm emerges, the crew to the Hermes abandon their mission, but Mark gets left behind when he is presumed dead. However it turns out that Mark survived the accident and is now stranded on Mars. With the next Mars mission coming in four years, Mark must find a way to survive the barren planet in hopes that he can reach NASA in time. Eventually Mark makes contact with NASA and the organization, along with the Hermes crew, must decide on how to bring the stranded astronaut home.



The story to The Martian took me by surprise. While the “cast away”  concept is nothing new, this film managed to make this element refreshing. What helped the familiar storyline was its two narratives. On one hand you had the story of Mark Watney; which was a survivor story through and through. What made Mark's tale compelling was the means that the astronaut went through to survive the harshness of Mars. Then you had the story of NASA and how they planned on getting Mark back; as well as handle the publicity behind the accident. This side to the story was just as compelling, if not more, then Mark's plot. It gave an idea of what NASA would do in a situation like the presented  in the movie; albeit in a thematic kind of way. Pacing to the story was also effective as it kept the plot fluent and had me engaged all the way to the film's thrilling climax.

When dealing with a movie like The Martian, you need to have a strong lead who knows how to command the scene. Fortunately this film had such a performance in Matt Damon as Mark Watney. While Mark Watney may not have been the most complex of characters, he was still a protagonist that I found enjoyable; and Damon's performance as the astronaut was impressive to say the least. Even with Matt Damon doing the majority of the work, this was by no means a one man show.The Martian had a massive ensemble featuring the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan,  Donald Glover and the list goes on.  Everyone in the cast had a place in this film as all the members stood out in some way; whether it was the great scenes from Jeff Daniels, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean; or just Donald Glover's engaging yet brief screentime. Maybe characters like the Hermes crew could have had more fleshed out development, but in end the cast was just as effective as the film's lead; which made for a impressive ensemble.

Seeing that the majority of the movie took place on Mars, the cinematography to the film had to capture the red planet perfectly; and I felt that it did so. From the locations used in filming to the camerawork, the movie created a sold representation to Mars. Another effective technical factor was the score by Henry Gregson-Williams. The music express the sci-fi concept behind the film, as well as implementing the right tunes for the movie's emotional moments. However out of everything that made of this movie work, what I found remarkable was the scientific direction to The Martian. From Mark's plan to survive Mars to NASA figuring out how to get Watney back, the movie featured several logical aspects on how a moment like this would be handled in reality. It felt as though you could learn something by watching this blockbuster.

To say that The Martian exceeded all my expectations may be an understatement. The film takes familiar concepts like the “cast away “story and makes it refreshing with its secondary narrative and its scientific direction. Along with a great ensemble and stunning effects, the Martian compels in many aspects. While I have had my issue with Ridley Scott in recent years, I know when to tip my hat when good filmmaking is made; and that is precisely what has happened with The Martian as it is among Ridley Scott's best films in quite sometime; as well as one of the best films to see this year.