“In your face, Neil Armstrong!”
This review will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film (which I highly suggest you do!) you may want to miss this review out.
For some, the simple idea of Matt Damon being stranded on Mars would be enough for them to want to see the movie itself. For me however (and I hope many others) ‘The Martian’ a film adaptation of the best selling book by author Andy Weir, contains a strong and engaging story that keeps you in suspense throughout. On top of this the film also manages to ‘juggle’ and maintain a strong sense of comedy even in the rather derelict and dire situations that the main character of the film is often in.
Adapting from a book can often spell disaster for some films as they can often be forced to leave out much of the detail from the books, to keep the film length down. even, in some cases splitting the single book into two or even three films. (I’m looking at you The Hobbit) But in all honesty i believe that, the director of The Martian, Ridely Scott (yes that one) manages to encapsulate and achieve a well regarded adaptation of the book, keeping in the humour and scientific detail it is well known for and bring it all to the big screen skillfully.
In short the plot of The Martian revolves around the central character to the film, Mark Watney. (as portrayed by Matt Damon) Whom is left stranded on Mars after a routine mission is cut short by a large dust storm that forces Mark and his crew to evacuate Mars. However as is a recurring theme in the film, bad luck is on Watney’s side as he is struck by a satellite dish and is presumed dead by his crew mates. The rest of the crew all make it back to the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) that launches them upto the Hermes, a large spaceship that orbits Mars. The film then splits into 3 different sub plots as we find Watney is alive (but not well) on Mars and manages to survive by quote on quote “science(ing) the sh*t out of this.” The Hermes crew are left distraught after Watney’s ‘death’ and begin the journey back to earth, later to find out he is alive and then defy orders from NASA and end up turning around to return to Mars and rescue Watney. Meanwhile on earth, NASA begins a large mission to essentially bring Mark home, but are faced by many problems, delays and suspense along the way. It ends with them eventually rescuing Watney, and the director even includes a little epilogue with Mark Watney back on Earth.
A great part of Ridely Scott’s work on The Martian is how he creates the different shots and settings in the movie and how he can successfully utilise the camera to help show effectively the different backdrops and settings. the camera work helps to distinguish and show how the settings changes from the NASA headquarters to the barren outlook of Mars and even the emptiness of space and the Hermes craft effectively and it helps us to differentiate the characters whilst they are all still connected with one another. Ridely Scott also provides us with great cinematography and really captures the sense of scale of mars and just how lonely and isolated Watney is throughout most of the film, the use of locations such as the middle eastern desert in Jordan really helps capture the look and feel of Mars as a baron derelict place dotted with man-made structures. The main structure known as the Hab (this is where all the astronauts were based originally and) is Mark Watney’s main base of operations with it throughout the film being where he feels most at home, Scott uses this to great effect emphasising its otherworldly place on Mars and how it makes Watney connect with humanity. Keeping with Watney’s humanity Comedy is used to great effect in the Martian and is one o the many reasons why i love the film. From the use of tacky jokes to subtle nudges to other films (like the use of project Elrond in the film) and even some disco classics that are used on the soundtrack (ABBA in a sci-fi film? sign me up!) the comedy helps to keep the film upbeat despite the knockbacks the characters face and increased my love for the film even more.
Despite being classed as a Science Fiction movie, The Martian covers real world science and real world media and issues. The use of science from several of the characters in the film is explained clearly enough for even the most casual viewer to understand and can actually help with understanding space travel and is yet another reason why i love the film. In addition to this the real world matters such as NASA and the media are portrayed realistically in the film with such events as a ‘Mark Watney’ report is covered by the news in the film. The Martian almost perfectly summaries and gives an insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ of a NASA space mission but also a rescue mission that the world is watching.
Overall, I love The Martian. (have i mentioned that?) the book was great and to me the film is even greater. Ridley Scott uses camera work, the soundtrack, the script and the actors in the film to expert use and it all works out very well. The film is a great example of how a book adaption can work and work well and i will continue to watch the film for years to come. If you like science fiction then this film is most definitely for you.
My Rating: 4/5