The Martian (2015) – Film Review
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wig
by Anel Blazevic
It was hardly coming from left-field: Ridley Scott, sci-fi icon, taking on a stranded man on Mars novel conversion. If ever a movie played out in your head before you’d seen a single second, it was this. But wait! The Martian might just be the most subversive, surprising movie of 2015.
Those expecting survivalist horror, alien shoot-’em-up or interplanetary action flick will be found wanting. And even those hoping for a cerebral Prometheus/Interstellar beard scratcher better watch out. No, The Martian succeeds by brilliantly going against the sci-fi grain. Part comedy, part slow burning, engrossing, problem solving epic, it finds a possibly unique balance between fun and drama, pulling you into the plight of marooned Matt Damon and fostering a genuine care from the viewer for his occasionally hopeless-seeming predicament.
“Brilliantly going against the sci-fi grain”
The key lies in the film’s humanity, in the hero’s need to survive, to laugh at the absurdity of his situation, to still have to deal with the minutiae of life (gardening, selfies, toilets) and being human despite everything. And in this, we relate, we empathise and we root for him.
The Martian landscape is astounding – a character in itself – and the occasional crashing metal set piece might pay homage to Gravity, but The Martian is very much its own film – right down to the deliberately incongruous disco soundtrack.
Course, not everyone will be impressed by the glacial pacing – some of my fellow moviegoers clearly hadn’t learnt the delicate art of yawn stifling – and the supporting cast are somewhat under-drawn, but those with a love for storytelling and a bigger love for the problems of being human and refusing to give in, will be richly rewarded by The Martian.