Based on the book by writer Andy Weir, The Martian is the story of astronaut Mark Watney’s survival on the planet Mars after he is left stranded. In that respect, one might say it’s basically Robinson Crusoe on Mars with better science and no Friday. It’s also similar to Gravity, where Sandra Bullock’s character is stranded in outer space and has to find her way back to Earth. Or even Tom Hanks’ Castaway? Or… what was the name of that movie when I was a child? Lost in the Desert?
As you can tell, the premise is nothing new and there are numerous stories about the lost or stranded protagonist who needs to survive and to find his or her way home. Therefore, there was a sense of trepidation before watching The Martian – mainly because of that familiar storyline. But to the credit of director Ridley Scott, scriptwriter Drew Goddard and the cast, The Martian is executed brilliantly and is ultimately a very emotionally resonant, thought-provoking and entertaining film. And also rather surprisingly, very funny as well.
Speaking of the cast, apart from Damon’s usual reliable star turn, special mention must be made of the performances of Jeff Daniels (as Teddy Sanders, head of NASA), Chiwetel Ejiofor (as Vincent Kapoor, a NASA mission director), Jessica Chastain (as Melissa Lewis, Ares III commander) and Sean Bean (as Mitch Henderson, a NASA mission director).
The presence of Bean inspired probably the most bizarrely comical segment when a secret project is dubbed “Elrond” with references of The Lord of the Rings being thrown about! Unbelievable! If you don’t quite get this then you need to understand that Bean played Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Most everything worked in The Martian, which is not often the case in recent movies helmed by Scott but it does seem that the veteran director has gotten his mojo back – which bodes well for the Prometheus sequel.
But well before that, make sure you do not miss The Martian – a feel good scifi movie that affirms the ‘never-say-die’ ethos of the human spirit.