Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Martian

Movie Name: The Martian
Year of Release: 2015
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Sean Bean, Mackenzie Davis, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover, Enzo Cilenti
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

Synopsis & Review:
Now well into his 70s, Ridley Scott shows no signs of stopping, and his latest feature, "The Martian" is finally the achievement he has been craving for, but has eluded him since his really last strong feature which was "Black Hawk Down" in 2001 (and following the mediocre "Exodus" from last year). The film (an adaptation of the novel by Andy Weir) follows the story of a team of astronauts exploring the planet Mars, who have to leave the planet on emergency due to a severe storm that is approaching. In the midst of the urgency, astronaut Mark Watney is hit by debris, and his teammates consider him dead, and abandon the planet. Watney wakes up to see another day, and much to his dismay and fear, finds himself alone in an inhospitable planet. It's up to him to devise a way to make rations work, find a way to create food and await a salvage team to reach him (there's a new team that will reach Mars, but that's almost 4 years away). Using nothing more than his intellect and a lot of effort, Mark overcomes hurdle by hurdle, until he finds a way to communicate back to Earth and inform everyone he's still alive.
Ridley Scott has created with "The Martian" a story that mixes and emphasizes his strong points in his long and varied career: impeccable visuals, production design, visual effects, with a more humane and heartfelt approach that sometimes has eluded some of his previous features. Much like "Alien" and "Blade Runner", the director creates a world of beauty, but also of menace, one were this single individual has to find ways to overcome a series of obstacles in order to stay alive. The film is very successful in mixing the hardship of Mark Watney's survival efforts, with the teams stationed back on Earth, that are trying at every step to create strategies to reach out to him and save him - that includes navigating impossible scenarios, diplomatic hurdles, political issues. The pacing of the film is perfectly timed, putting the viewer in the perspective of a time lapse, and the urgency to reach the stranded astronaut before he dies. It's a film that marries an impeccable script, one that ties intelligence, humor and resourcefulness, with stunning visuals, score and a fantastic cast, with highlights going to Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels. A really good surprise from a somewhat uneven director.