The Martian is a science fiction feature film directed by the renowned and legendary Ridley Scott who has brought us many cult science fiction classics such as the Alien series and movies such as Blade Runner. The film is based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel The Martian. It is in a nutshell, a story of survival, of defying all odds and not giving up in the face of hopelessness and when it all seems lost.
The movie’s basic premise/plot gyrates around an astronaut named Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who gets left behind on the planet of Mars during an exploratory expedition by his crew members because he is presumed dead/lost when they get caught up in a middle of a severe sandstorm on the planet of Mars. How he survives the alien planet and endures the physical and mental strain that comes with being basically the only person stranded on a hostile habitat such as Mars is what the entire movie is about.
As far as the acting in the lead role is concerned, Matt Damon yet again proves and reasserts his acting caliber as he is truly for a lack of a better word, “remarkable” in his role as an astronaut being marooned on Mars and he fully delivers all the attached emotional gravity that comes with such an exhaustive role. Devoid of cheap sci-fi thrills just for the sake of it coupled with a usual Alien plot-line is nowhere to be seen thankfully because this has been done so many times before. As was the novel this particular movie is based upon, the movie feels a lot more grounded and humanized despite being setup in such a grandiose and huge narrative.
Additionally, this movie will be compared time and again to recent science fiction movies such as Interstellar (A movie in which Matt Damon more or less plays a same role as in this one) and Gravity. But as those movies were more existential, The Martian is consciously utilitarian and a lot more enjoyable and entertaining, there is a lot less philosophic rhetoric on call here. You need to see Interstellar at least twice to understand the premise of the movie, it was too complicated for some but thankfully Martian is a pure joy to watch without being cluttered with nuances that will make you over think regarding the movie itself.
Speaking of the visual setting, the desolate yet horrifying red landscape of Mars is shown in full glory. Ridley has ensured that the visuals shown are scientifically accurate and he has collaborated with NASA to ensure that scientific accuracy is maintained. Moreover, just recently there has been news of NASA discovering water lakes on mars that predates million of years ago, this adds to the authenticity of the movies churning out of Hollywood these days, now the movies are no longer restricted to alien plots or themes which seem too farfetched to be fathomable that this will ever see the light of day. The Martian is a much more realistic and authentic take on what it would be like if NASA actually sends astronauts to explore the red planet in a real world scenario. Martian entertains the notion of exploring planets in order to make alien planets habitable for human use. The mere prospect of inhabiting planets other than Earth is an idea that may seem implausible or improbable to many but advances in science and technology can make it possible, this is also exhibited in this movie, it helps to opening up our minds to the idea of living in an alien planet.
A certain quarter where this movie falls a tad bit short is lack of other interesting characters in the movie apart from Damon. Most perceptible and obvious is the lack of screen time allotted to characters that are connected and entwined in the story narrative. Good actors casted in this movie seems like a waste, actors like Kristen Wiig, Danny Glover, Jeff Daniels and Jessica Chastain are all fillers rather than being substantial characters in the movie that could have made this movie a lot more interesting, thoughtful and added a lot more dramatic realism but that is not the case here and the other cast members come off as a little superficial and just act as a means to carry the story forward towards its logical conclusion.
The Martian is homage to human tenacity and perseverance. This movie is deeply moving, we are rooting for the lead protagonist to successfully go back to Earth yet it is equally horrifying to imagine a human being stranded millions of miles away from his homeland. A thought that will give us all Goosebumps, the mere thought of this occurring as the audience will see this movie is a testament of how good this movie is.
The fundamental and quintessential essence of this movie is that The Martian subtly and craftily defines how a science fiction genre based movie ought to be made. Consider this Homer’s Iliad equivalent space odyssey novel made even better in celluloid format by its director Ridley Scott. As human beings it is in built-in in each of us the need to not only survive but thrive in the face of insurmountable odds, the movie truly reflects a struggle of a man against the most extreme of circumstances. As the renowned fictional character from the Star Trek universe, Spock used to say “Live long and Prosper”, one can’t help but think of that Vulcan salute as the movie concludes. Must watch movie in my opinion, I’d give it a rating of 9/10