BY AUSTIN VAN PAY
From “Alien” to “Blade Runner,” Ridley Scott has made a great reputation for himself in the science-fiction world. His unique world creations and the characters within them are well thought-out and bring so much joy to fans of the genre. With “The Martian,” Ridley Scott has the opportunity to yet again take us to a faraway world and create an adventure for all filmgoers to enjoy. Does Ridley’s latest film accomplish this feat yet again? The answer to that question is most definitely yes!
“The Martian” was originally a novel written by Andy Weir in 2011. It has been converted to film in dazzling fashion by Scott. The film stars Matt Damon as Mark Watney, a botany specialist who has the terrible luck of being impaled by a communication antenna during a storm on Mars. He is thrown too far for his crew to search for him, and no vital signs are shown from Watney’s suit. Both NASA and his whole mission crew believe that he has been killed. Needless to say, they were dead wrong, and Watney wakes up to discover that he has been left for dead on the big red planet, 249 million miles away from home. At any other time, Mark’s botany specialist title wouldn’t do him much good, but, here, it plays to his advantage. Mark realizes that in order to survive long enough for NASA to bring him home, he’s going to have to “science the sh** out of this,” as he says in the film. In other words, Watney has to somehow cultivate plants on a planet that doesn’t grow anything at all, all while gaining communication with NASA to figure out a means of escape.
When you bring up a Ridley Scott film, it’s also impossible to not bring up the fact that the film is downright mesmerizing to look at. I was able to view the film in the 3D version, and it was so immersive and spectacular to see the vast Mars landscape, as well as the vastness of space itself. Scott always has a way of filling his sets with fantastic costume and aesthetic work that makes each one unique. If you feel as though space settings have been exhausted, this film may make you think twice.
What really surprised me most about this film is that, even with the gravity of the situation at hand, there is a large amount of smart comedy that really works. The whole plot of the film would lead many to believe it is very morbid and depressing, but Matt Damon’s character and other NASA employees really spark optimism, smarts and humor extremely effectively. Mark Watney is given an impossible task, and yet he still manages to goof off and make light of his dire situation. Whether he’s bragging about being “the greatest botanist on this planet” or complaining about his crew member’s choice in disco music, Matt Damon steals the show and makes you care and relate to his character throughout the entirety of the film.
All of the great dialogue and the overall plot developments stem from the fantastic screenplay from Drew Goddard. He really brings great uniqueness and special character to each person present on the screen at all times. It is interesting and special to hear the conversations between some of the smartest individuals in the world at NASA. I never thought any scene was pointless and never felt bored during any point in the film. Every interaction and new development was so well crafted and always had my complete attention. This immersion isn’t always done so effectively with these type of films, but, thanks to fantastic direction and writing, “The Martian” excels in almost all aspects.
Overall, “The Martian” is a fantastic film filmed with smart dialogue, fantastic visual effects, an engrossing plot and one of the best performances in Matt Damon’s career. Ridley Scott has crafted one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory and the film breathes fresh air into the space genre. In the words of Mark Watney, “in your face, Neil Armstrong!”
Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2015, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3659388/quotes