A film that's almost impossible to dislike, thanks to its appealing lead and upbeat tone.
Directorial comebacks are rarely as exciting as Ridley Scott’s The Martian. More often than not, they just gently assure us that maybe our old favourites haven’t totally lost their touch, but they’re rarely of the same caliber as the older stuff. In Scott’s case however, he’s managed to not only prove that he’s still got it, but also deliver one of his best films yet.
Now garnering serious awards buzz, The Martian is the kind of film you’d expect from a director in their prime, not from a 78 year old. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it’s different. It even manages to overshadow more recent space-films like Gravity or Interstellar, by having a beating heart to accompany the gorgeous visuals.
On a surface level, the film is essentially a hybrid of Cast Away and Apollo 13, as astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is inadvertently left behind on Mars by his crew, following a severe dust storm. Watney has to subsequently survive 300 ‘sols’ on the planet, in the vein hope that someone will come back for him. Throughout its duration the film bounces back and forth between Watney on Mars and the NASA scientists who are trying to figure out a way to rescue him.
What distinguishes The Martian, besides an undeniably loveable Matt Damon, impressive visuals and an excellent score, is its refreshingly optimistic tone. Rarely have space movies felt this good. Most of this is to be attributed to Drew Goddard and his witty-as-hell screenplay. But that doesn’t mean that we should underestimate the role of Scott, he’s earned it after all. Oh and the soundtrack. Never forget the soundtrack.
The Martian (2015), directed by Ridley Scott, is released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray by Twentieth Century Fox. Certificate 12.