*No Major Spoilers*
Last night, I had a bit of a movie night, and our movie of choice was ‘The Martian’, the adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel. I have not read the book (and so cannot compare its likeness to it!) however I was desperate to watch the film! My friend who has seen it was a huge fan, and I have heard so many people talking about it, which built up pretty high expectations for it. I wasn’t disappointed though; I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
For those of you who do not know, briefly, ‘The Martian’ is about an astronaut, Mark Watney, who is part of a Mars mission and is presumed dead after a storm hits, causing his teammates to abandon him and evacuate. The plot is pretty intriguing from the get-go. We start with some hooking drama in the form of said storm, and it is all rather tense. After this opening, though, the tone shifts from tense and action-packed to surprisingly comic. Despite the obvious moments of action, quite a lot of this film is actually hilarious. Probably not enough so to warrant its inclusion in the Comedy category at the Golden Globes but still, I was impressed with how seamlessly it could transgress between serious and comedic. While the plot is a little predictable at points, that does not stop there being some real heart-in-mouth moments. One thing I had heard before watching this film was ‘would someone without a scientific background be able to follow the plot and enjoy it?’ Obviously, given its space focus, a lot of this movie’s premise is rooted in scientific ideas. What I will say is that you do not have to be scientifically-minded to follow the plot. While I suppose I would call myself scientifically-minded, my ‘areas of expertise’ are in human biology and organic chemistry, so not exactly the areas we are handling here. The script does a very good job of explaining or outlining the scientific events without sounding preachy or condescending, so anyone, not just someone knowledgeable about space, physics and botany can follow this one!
The acting was all-around very strong. I loved Matt Damon as Watney. He was equally impressive in his casual, funny moments and in his emotional ones, and he really showed Watney’s mental turmoil. The rest of the ensemble cast were impressive, but for me, the stand-out performances besides Damon came from Michael Peña as Martinez ( I loved this character!), Donald Glover as Rich Purnell and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor. Not only were the actors strong, but their characters were as well. From the amusing Ares III crew to the conflicting team back at NASA, there were a lot of characters to split the runtime between, but nearly everyone packs a punch.There were a few who became redundant as the plot stretched on – Kristen Wiig and Mackenzie Davis played very similar roles, and I would have liked to see a bit more of the Ares III crew, and Sean Bean’s Mitch – but generally I did enjoy watching these characters.
It was the production team, however, who were the real stars of the show here; everything about the production was superb. Visually stunning, the sets work perfectly and the special effects are strong. I was very fond of the camera work throughout the film, and I loved the scenes filmed through cameras on the spacesuits, or when Watney is talking to his webcam. The music worked well also – both the extradiegetic scores and the on-running joke diegetic disco music. The direction from Ridley Scott was also good; I cannot find fault with it (but then again, direction is hardly my field of expertise!)
I’d definitely recommend this film to those who haven’t seen it yet, although as usual I am behind the times, waiting for the DVD release before watching it! I’m going to bump the book up my TBR list, in the hope of enjoying it like I did its adaptation.