‘The Martian’ Review: Best Work in Years for Both Matt Damon & Ridley Scott

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

After back-to-back underwhelming films, it felt like Ridley Scott himself was on a mission to remind everyone of what he can do. The Martian is an amazing film with drama, thrills, and humor mixed with a whole lot of fun. Its no surprise how much I enjoyed it when seeing Drew Goddard’s name credited for writing the screenplay. Then give that screenplay to a sci-fi director like Scott and have him science direct the sh*t out of it.

The Martian is visually one of the best films of this year. As is the case with Scott’s previous work, this film has some standout moments thanks to what you see onscreen. A majority of the film takes place on Mars, and thanks to set locations and CGI, Scott gives us an intriguing landscape of the dead planet. The BB-8 colored exploration suits looked awesome. Those suits are based off actual space suits, but slightly modified to be more practical. The end result turned out to be a great fit. The choice to also modify the space technology featured in the film made things all the more entertaining, while completely accurate.

Lets talk about the star of the film, Matt Damon who makes Mark Watney the coolest nerd in recent years. Damon is terrific as the stranded astronaut. Acting alone for a majority of the film is no simple task, yet Damon pulls it off with his charisma and skills. At times, this film heavily relies on him to keep the story going and the task is never too much.

As for the supporting cast, its one with some serious talent. There is not one performance below exceptional. Jessica Chastain has a commanding presence and out does herself from last year’s Interstellar. Chewtel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, and Sean Bean are damn near flawless in their limited roles.

Michael Pena adds his exceptional comedic chops and delivers some great laughs. Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Kristen Wiig and Askel Hennie have smaller roles but each one of them stand tall next to the rest. Lastly, Donald Glover… why is this my first time seeing this guy act? He was such a standout and is someone I need to keep my eye on moving forward.

As perfect as The Martian seems, it has a few minor hiccups for me. I tend to mention pacing in my reviews because the flow of the film is something I find important, its also noticeable when off. The film does a great job being detailed and thorough, while fun with its story of survival, thanks in part to Damon’s narration. However, there’s a moment where the story jumps several months and for awhile after that the pacing seems off, while everything building up to that point moved nicely.

I also mentioned how there’s humor (throughout) in the film. Sometimes I felt like some of the jokes were misplaced, and by that I mean instead of laughing I questioned why that line was there. These are things I view as minor, but they stand out when I think of negatives. Typically, if I have to really search for something that doesn’t work, then it probably didn’t matter. Not the case here.

All that being said, The Martian is a must see film. Its an incredible story, with an incredible ensemble led by a superb Matt Damon. Fans of Ridley Scott will rejoice after watching this movie, and just maybe look at science as something that’s pretty f*cking awesome.

The Martian gets a 9.25 out of 10

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