The Martian boasts 100% scientific accuracy but does being completely realistic make a movie good? The problem with trying to be realistic can make a film long, dry and forget about the story. The Martin however uses its realism to build our engagement, we don’t become distracted by any farfetched ideas or plot advancements. The Martian shows the ingenuity of mankind and how quickly it can all be taken away. Matt Damon plays our favourite Martian by the name of Mark Watney dealing with the most intense isolation, luckily Watney is the Bear Grylls of science.
The plotline can be easily explained to your parents or grand-parents as; imagine the movie Castaway with a NASA employee instead of a Fed Ex employee and the role of the island being played by Mars. Everyone’s favourite blood covered spheroid Wilson’s part is filled by the audience. We are the ones that have full access to Watney’s inner most thoughts, we are there experiencing his wins and his losses as our own. A lot of the concepts may not be new but it executes them so well.
The scenery is a huge focus in the movie, not just on Mars but on Earth as well. As the bright, vast and harsh terrain of Mars houses a calm and in control Mark Watney, it is Earth’s confined and dark settings that brings a lot of the chaos. As if Watney was on a sunny island resort for MacGyver enthusiasts and everyone back at the office was freaking out because he was the only one that new how to change the printer cartridges.
Learning from Guardians of the Galaxy, The Martian has a retro soundtrack which even though has been done recently suits the atmosphere so well. Much like a laser T-Rex there is something about the blending of futuristic and retro that is oddly satisfying. Continuing on from lessons we learnt from Guardians of the Galaxy, well placed humour goes a long way which The Martian surprisingly has a lot of. There are times where the humour is too present especially when dealing with a topic that deserves more insight. It is as if Ridley Scott looked back at what he did in Alien and did a similar series of rise and fall and rise again in tension but this time made the dinner scene with the crew laughing a lot longer before the eventual cough and splutter occur and then the great fear is born. A movie filled with isolation relies on our castaway to uphold the movie on their own. Luckily for us Matt Damon does just that, delivering a truly human performance.
The Martian is the space movie that we need in our lives right now. It is a constant reminder of the small pride of man in the vast universe we live in and that one small dream for mankind is one giant nightmare for one man. A balanced combination of stunning visuals and stellar performances makes The Martian a solidly brilliant film.
Review by Jacob Amarant