Review: The Martian

By: Andrew Haas

October seems to be the month where the more serious, potential award-contenders start to appear. In that case, this year kicks it off with the latest Ridley Scott film, The Martian. I have not read the original Andy Weir novel and the trailers made me think this was going to be another space survival thriller à la Gravity. I will say it turned out a bit different than I expected, but in the best way.

During a mission on Mars, a storm hits and the crew is forced to evacuate. Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, is left behind when he is hit by debris and presumed dead. But when he turns out to be alive, Mark must figure out how to survive on the red planet while NASA plans a rescue for him.

First of all, the cast is this film is huge! Aside from Damon there’s also Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, and so many more. Each of them do a fantastic job with their roles and add to the film’s drama and humor. Also, this really showcases Ridley Scott’s directing talents that have been slightly lacking in some of his recent works. He knows how to make Mars look gorgeous, even though it’s mostly a dessert. Mixed with Drew Goddard’s well put together script makes for a real treat in film making.

One of the most surprising aspects of the film is its sense of humor. One would think being stranded on a lifeless planet would make for a heavily dramatic thriller. But the main character’s optimism and intelligence is very uplifting and leads to some legitimately funny moments. But that isn’t to say there’s no real drama in it. When Mark is in serious trouble, there is a lot of tension. Whether it was growing food or finding means of communication, I was engaged with every moment of Mark trying to survive on Mars.

But the Mars scenes aren’t the only great things. Back on Earth, there is a real sense of pressure on NASA regarding the situation. It deals with issues of communication, supplies, the awareness of Mark’s crew, and finding a means of getting the man back. But much like on Mars, there’s a sense of lighthearted humor to break up the drama.

From what I can tell, there’s a great deal of scientific facts being discussed throughout the film. While I, as well as some casual viewers, didn’t quite get a lot of what was being talked about, I was able to pick up the general ideas.

The Martian is definitely a great film to kick off the big movie season. With great acting and a script that mixes science, drama, and humor; this is probably one of the best films Ridley Scott has made in a while. I highly recommend checking it out.


Rating: 4.5/5

Pros

  • The cast
  • The visuals
  • The writing
  • Mars survival is engaging and at times suspenseful
  • Surprising amount of good humor

Cons

  • Some viewers might not understand the science lingo
  • The humor is off putting at times