By Sean Gardner
The Martian is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and a plethora of other great actors. It is written by Drew Goddard and is adapted from the Andy Weir novel of the same name. I love Ridley Scott movies, especially his sci-fi films Alien and Blade Runner. Also, with the lack of success from Scott in recent years, I was really interested to see if he could get back on his game.
The story is basically Cast Away meets Apollo 13. During a maned mission to Mars, a heavy storm threatens the operation and they have to abort the mission. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets hit by flying debris and is assumed dead by his crew. Unaware that he his still alive, they leave him behind on their way back to Earth. Now, Watney must figure out how to survive on the desolate red planet until he contacts NASA and get them to send supplies and a rescue mission.
The film is visually stunning, per the norm for Ridley Scott. The landscapes and set designs make it look like Scott loaded up a rocket ship with Damon and a camera crew and flew to Mars. It is also surprisingly funny and this is due to the fantastic script by Goddard. It is not all kicks and giggles though. There are some truly suspenseful moments.
The performances all around are great. The best performance by far is given by Matt Damon. I found myself thinking, “I can’t believe that this is the same guy that was fighting a giant poop monster in Kevin Smith’s Dogma.” Damon has really made a great career for himself since and this is probably this is probably his best performance. He owns this movie. He fits with Drew Goddard’s writing perfectly. He’s witty, he’s optimistic, and it works.
The only thing that I would say against it is that at nearly two and a half hours, it is about 10-15 minutes too long. It’s not bloated by any means. It just drags on a little too long in some spots, and the exciting ending more than makes up for the slower moments.