The Martian

The MartianFrom one of my favorite directors, Ridley Scott, The Martian presents the story of a stranded astronaut who gets left on Mars when his crew thinks he’s dead and has to do an emergency evacuation of the planet. Matt Damon plays Mark Watney who needs to use science to survive until a rescue mission can be executed once NASA gets wind of him still being alive. Once again Scott delivers a compelling movie that keeps you hooked from beginning to end…

While Watney is by himself he has to face the notion of starvation, running out of water, in addition to storms that prove to be fatal as well as challenging for the structures he’s living in. As simple as it sounds, Ridley Scott manages to shape a film that can be terrifying and thrilling without monsters or serial killers. Damon’s passionate delivery of the lead role makes the film work as well.

The effects and design are expertly put together. They shot this in a desert somewhere obviously but manage to make it feel like a different planet with subtle nuances to the atheistic of the film through things like color grading and backdrop inserts. The storms feel especially brutal, the kind where you just want to curl up under the covers like when you were a kid just waiting / praying for it to die down, like a scary nemesis stalking your home that won’t leave.

The lineup of the film is impressive with everyone putting in a strong performance. Jessica Chastain plays the head of the astronaut team with a strong, authoritative delivery alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor contributing as the dedicated head of the Mars program at NASA. The whole cast is strong and includes Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Aksel Hennie, and Sebastian Stan.

If you like good, suspenseful sci-fi without aliens bursting out of anyone’s chest, definitely check out The Martian.

reviewed by Sean McKnight