By Declan Chin
Ridley Scott has produced some of the greatest science fiction films in his career, but recent flops such as Prometheus and Exodus have left fans unsatisfied. However, his newest project, The Martian, delivers on all levels and reestablishes Scott as the king of Sci-Fi.
The film opens with the desperate evacuation of Mars by the Ares 3 crew led by Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). However, while on the way to the ship, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck by debris and presumed dead. The crew abandons the planet and Watney is left stranded with only a year’s worth of food. Watney now must find a way to survive alone on Mars while NASA and JPL work together to rescue him.
Matt Damon carries most of the weight of the film and gives an exquisite performance in the leading role. His likeable character drives the story and keeps the audience rooting for him the whole way. The film’s plot, albeit simple, works very well to demonstrate the cast’s outstanding acting capability. Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, and Sean Bean only make up a fraction of the talent this movie contains. Scott’s all-star cast truly has no weak links — each character pulls their weight and is a joy to watch.
The Martian also contains its fair share of science. Mark Watney is forced to find a way to survive on a planet with extreme conditions. The science in the film is interesting, well-described, and in no way feels forced into the script. Watney’s impressive thought process is smoothly integrated through daily documentation of his events.
However the science of the film does not limit its audience to die-hard science fiction fans. At its core, The Martian is really a drama. Watney, a man isolated on an uninhabited planet 34 million miles away, must continue to fight on in hopes that he will one day be rescued. While the world is slightly futuristic, the human elements and emotions of the film are still there. The movie has humor, sadness, excitement, and never fails to connect with the audience.
The film’s one minor flaw is its length. The film boasts an impressive 2 hour and 22 minute run-time that will take up a large part of your day. The final product may have been more impactful had the movie been trimmed down to about two hours. There are many unnecessary scenes of Watney on Mars that are not related to the plot that showcase Watney’s wit, but do little to enhance the film. However, many will not see this as a flaw, and enjoy every minute of the film; it simply depends on the moviegoer.
The Martian’s incredible depth of acting talent and ability to appeal to every kind of viewer produced a film worthy of the praise it has been receiving. The new flick is not only a return to form for director Ridley Scott, but also hails as one of the best science fiction movies of the year.