There is a reason Ridley Scott is not in my Top Ten Favorite Directors. That reason is because of how inconsistent the quality of his work is. Don’t get me wrong, he is a visionary who has been inspiring, and influencing pop culture since the 1970’s! The problem is (non-bold=bad, bold=good): he’ll make an Alien and a Blade Runner, then a G.I. Jane and a Gladiator (yes, I hate that movie). Then he’ll make a Black Hawk Down, then a Robin Hood, then a Prometheus, and then an Exodus: Gods and Kings. You see my point of his “up and down” career choices. However, when he picks a great script, MAN does he pick a great script! The Martian is directed by Ridley Scott and adapted from Andy Weir’s book (of the same name) by Drew Goddard (yeah, the writer/director of The Cabin in the Woods wrote a sci-fi action drama). Stars-Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Peña, and about 20 or so other celebrities and A-list actors. Premise-When a team of astronauts leave Mars to avoid a dangerous storm, one of them is left behind. He must now find a way to survive on a barren planet, with limited resources, and everybody who could save him thinks he is dead.
I’ll start off with the negatives, mostly because of how few there actually are. For one, I thought this movie was too long. If it were more tightly edited, it would have been a perfect two hours instead of two and a half. I hear NASA demanded that some things be put into the film for legal reasons (or some such garbage). I am not certain on that information, but it is important to mention. Even so, there were many moments during the movie where I was extremely bored. Luckily those moments were few and far between. There were also many predictable moments in the story, which I blame on clichéd lines of dialog. Lines like, “Let’s hope nothing goes wrong.” Whenever you hear that, you’re just like, “Well gee, I wonder what’s gonna happen next?” You say it ironically because you know what is going to happen in the next scene.
The first positive I have to talk about is the cast and their performances! Everybody is great in this movie! There better be at least 3 Oscar nominations for acting in this movie because Damon, Daniels, Chastain, and Ejiofor are all outstanding! The only actor I didn’t like was Kristen Wiig, but even then, she wasn’t bad, just not as good as the rest of the cast. But enough about the cast, how about the rest of the movie? For one, the set design, props, and outfits are very detailed and creative. The cinematography is stunning, the special effects are scintillating, and the direction is very well-handled. But the one thing which steals the show completely, are the characters, specifically, Matt Damon’s “Watney”. That guy is the best movie protagonist of 2015 behind only Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road, and Joy/Sadness from Inside Out. Why? Because throughout all the troubles, fear, physical pain, emotional turmoil, and loneliness, he always finds the light side of things and even cracks jokes throughout his trials. This makes him one of the most likeable and endearing characters I have ever seen in a sci-fi film! We see him get beaten down by his situation, but he always bounces back. Throughout the entire movie, I was worried about his situation, and that is what writing an emotionally powerful character will do for your movie. The supporting characters are all very well-written as well, but Watney is the best by far.
It may seem like this movie is shaping out to be an A, however that is not the case. Given how many great space movies we have, I had to take into account how this one holds up against them. Obviously, if I compared any movie to Star Wars that would be unfair, however I am content with saying this movie is one of Ridley’s best films (almost as good as Prometheus). As far as recent sci-fi films go, it is not better than Interstellar (which had a better story and effects) or Gravity (which had better tension and effects). Although I should be grateful considering the Mars genre is not known for its list of great films. Seriously, have you thought about that? Red Planet, Mars Needs Moms, and John Carter were all box office bombs, and any Mars film that was financially successful was a critical bomb (Ghosts of Mars, Mission to Mars, Doom, Mars Attacks!, etc.). It is so nice to finally see a worthy Mars-centric movie. The Martian gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B+.