Directed by Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Mark Watney is, an astronaut and botanist who is stranded on Mars after a manned mission to the planet goes wrong. Watney must now discover a method to survive while NASA works hard in their efforts to bring him home.
Though Ridley Scott is a critically acclaimed director, and there is no denying that his has a number of impressive films under his name however one could argue that the last 5 years the films he has made have been of weaker narrative quality. With films such as, ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings‘, ‘The Counselor’ and ‘Prometheus‘ while they have been visually beautiful, narratively they have often struggled which in turn has caused the entire film to suffer subsequently reducing the impact on critics and the Box office.
‘The Martian’ then, could be argued to be RIdely Scott’s return to form, based on the really excellent book by Andy Weir, Scott has outstanding source material in which to make his film. Scott manages to balance perfectly the world of Mars and Earth, maintaining Watney’s mixture of science-based knowledge and understanding with his emotional journey, somthing which makes the book enjoyable. With NASA on Earth devising new schemes and operations to try and bring Watney home.
He could easily have made a film similar to the setting and tone of Prometheus about a man on Mars, he instead reflects the books best elements and characteristics. Of course of the book is much longer than the film as most adaptations are but I feel as though Scott has made his decision on picking parts from the book that would best serve his purpose rather well, of course there are scenes that one wishes he had included but then again those scenes can now remain in your own personal imagination which to each one of us is perfect.
I would implore upon you that if you plan on seeing the film, then you must unconditionally read the book first. For myself, once I began to read Watney’s journey I could simply not put the book down and had soon finished it within the week, subsequently lending it to my father and preaching to all I knew that they had to read this epic scientific adventure. So while the film does do an excellent job of adapting, it felt like a rather substantial set of footnotes compared to the book.
My only slight annoyance, which is absolutely more of a personal irritation, is the use of the word ‘Fuck’. There are many moments in the book where not only is that word used to great comedic effect but also provides a more adult sense of humor which runs through the entire adventure. Being a PG film they were allocated a number of uses of the word, I was not aware of the age rating when entering the film, silly really.
OVERALL **** This is the scientific adventure that will appeal to everyone, scientifically explained and not one dull moment. Matt Damon encapsulates Watney’s time on Mars perfectly with an outstandingly ( quite a few in-jokes) well-cast film.
RECOMMENDATION – I implore you to read the book first.