There are few times when one can watch a movie and feel like they are experiencing a part of film history. The realization that you are actually living through and affecting history as it happens is one that can often be ignored, but is incredible when realized. “The Martian” is one movie in which you are able to tell that you are trailblazing through history and living in the future.
Not only is “The Martian” a great movie, but it is also a return to greatness for director Ridley Scott, after his disappointing, sandblasted take on the Book of Exodus, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” “The Martian” will undoubtedly go down as yet another one of his great works of science fiction.
Scott’s direction opens up the vast Martian landscape to us, the cinematography painting a portrait of an alien world so beautiful that it is practically unmatched by those of other filmmakers. Scott combines the intense moments of loneliness and action scenes of “Gravity,” the space-epic feel of “Interstellar” and the rescue mission-esque vibe of “Apollo 13.” It’s basically the combination of all the best parts of the giants of the subgenre, and it couldn’t be held together without Scott.
He presents it through the eyes of Mark Watner (Matt Damon), an astronaut left on Mars after being presumed dead by his fellow crew members. The film follows his attempts to survive on Mars on the efforts of the director of NASA (Jeff Daniels), his subordinate Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and various others back home.
There really isn’t any sort of weak link to point out in terms of the cast. Their acting could be rated on a scale from spectacular to Oscar-worthy. Matt Damon may have to clear off his shelf to make space for another Academy Award, and there is absolutely no way that Chiwetel Ejiofor will escape this Oscar season without an award for Best Supporting Actor.
If anything bad had to be said about the film, it would be that the act three climax was a little too over-the-top, and that sometimes the film went too far in how scientifically inaccurate it was willing to be in order to be entertaining. However, when we’re already willing to pretend that Matt Damon is an astronaut, we might as well pretend that he can do all the other improbable things he does in the film as well.
It almost seems like fate that NASA would announce the discovery of flowing water on Mars the same week that “The Martian” was released. Above all, this movie is a representation of the enduring human drive to explore and better ourselves while holding onto the values that instruct us to care for one another.
This film has no “Captain Planet”-style villain to come out and suggest that they leave Watner to die on Mars. There is only action. There is only a determination. There is only perseverance after failure. You should see “The Martian” because for just a little while, you may see part of what makes humanity great.