“Are you not entertained?” asked Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s 2000 masterpiece Gladiator, I’m glad he asked that because my answer to Scott’s films since Gladiator were hesitant.
The Martian is a science fiction film about astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is abandoned by his team on Mars when he’s presumed dead after a violent storm. Shortly after his team packs up and heads home (Earth), Mark wakes up and has to improvise with the supplies he has in order to survive. NASA and the world start panicking and working on a way to bring him back home but until then, he must survive. The basis of The Martian is a story of one man against almost inconceivable odds.
One thing that I’d like to point out is that unlike a few science fiction films in the past, The Martian doesn’t make up the science. The Martian takes place on a planet we know exists (it’s right next door) and doesn’t force unneeded laws of physics.
Matt Damon’s character is absolutely brilliant and I would say the performance was great but I think in retrospect the role was written for him. Mark Watney is quite possibly one of the most optimistic characters I have ever seen in a film, which is the underlying base of the main quality of The Martian. Being alone on a planet is one of my most popular irrational fears, and Mark Watney turned it into a pleasurable viewing experience.
Ridley Scott has directed some great movies (Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator) and yes he may have slipped a bit recently (Prometheus, Robin Hood, A Good Year), but he has found that spark that made the earlier films great again. The directing is brilliant showing some overseen scenes which took a lot of skill to put together. And some of the cinematography is really well focused.
The Martian is a well-written sci-fi, with an overly optimistic character in the deep-end of a horrible situation, decent cinematography and overall, just well made entertainment.
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