Last month Matt Damon joked on the Graham Norton Show that after being approached by Ridley Scott for the leading role in “The Martian” he replied that “it probably isn’t good career advice to play a guy marooned on a planet – again.” But Matt Damon went on to say that he couldn’t resist because it was Ridley Scott. We agree.
In his latest artwork Ridley Scott lets us glimpse astonishing and beautiful scenes of our neighbouring red planet. In “The Martian” Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind on Mars by his crew. Equipped with basic supplies he must find a way to survive on this hostile planet.
The director is very loyal to the novel of the same name by Andy Weir. The isolation of the main character is deeply felt and the nearly hopeless situation is brilliantly conveyed not only by Ridley Scott but especially by the great acting of Matt Damon. No other actor could have played a witty botanist astronaut stranded on Mars. Casting certainly did a good job: Sean Bean as the grumpy and rebelling crew supervisor, Donald Glover as the geeky astrodynamicist, Michael Peña and Jessica Chastain to name two of the fellow crew members and of course Jeff Daniels as the pragmatic but heartless director of NASA.
But the huge cast is also the weakness of the film. The story feels rushed through. And the reason for this is that all characters need to be introduced and their stories packed in 141 minutes of film. This way the main part of the story is neglected: the isolation of Mark Watney and the fact that he has to solve the numerous problems that Mars throws at him. The focus needs to be more on him to really get the feeling of a Robinson Crusoe in space.
Apart from this it is still a pleasure to watch. The “mars-scapes”, the humour, the suspense, the convincing special effects and the 70s music definitely contribute to one great film.
Watch the trailer HERE.
Written by Jesse Lieberman
image: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation