Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.
Veteran sci-fi director Ridley Scott returns to the big screen once more, this time with grandiose space tale The Martian - originally
based off a book by Andy Weir; telling of one stranded astronauts struggle for survival on the harsh red planet of Mars.
The Martian begins exactly where you think it would, set in a near-future on Mars. As the crew of the Ares 3 - a NASA helmed manned mission to
Mars - shuffle about within their enclosed habitat (referred to as the Hab) trying to look productive. Only to be interrupted by a storm rolling in - iím not sure what they
expected on a harsh barren world or why they hadnít prepared for it, maybe they were expecting a beach destination - so with their mission now called off, the
crew - comprised of Mark (Matt Damon), Melissa (Jessica Chastain), Rick (Michael PeŮa), Beth (Kate Mara),
Alex (Aksel Hennie) and Chris (Sebastian Stan) - scurry back to their conveniently ready to go rocket.
Only poor Mark is having a very bad day, if it isnít asteroids you have to look out for, its satellite dishes - as one sends him flying into the darkness -
the crew believing him lost, leave him behind like an unwanted souvenir given to you by a realtive you see once a decade. Now safely aboard, the Ares 3 crew -
minus Mark - leave for their 9 month trek home to Earth. Whilst the opening is indeed preposterous and doesnít quite comply with the scientific approach they
are trying to set up, itís all just a convenient reason to leave a guy on Mars - which is where The Martian truly begins.
Now stranded, Mark must first patch himself up (those satellite dishes can be brutal) and then assess his dire situation. With only a year's worth of food at
best, and the next Mars mission not planned to arrive for at least another 4 years, Mark in his words has to ďscience the shit out of thisĒ. Back on Earth,
NASA completely oblivious to the fact, announce to the world - via NASA Director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) - that Mark is indeed dead and the
mission (iím still not quite sure what they were planning to do) a failure. Itís here we are introduced to a bunch of faces - many holding no weight within
the movie, so entirely superfluous - one of these being Mindy (Mackenzie Davis) who notices movement on the Mars surface, resulting in a meeting
between Teddy, Vincent (Chiwetel Ejiofor) Mitch (Sean Bean) and the entirely pointless character Annie (Kristen Wiig).
Comprehending the ramifications of the discovery, the NASA team on Earth must now establish on how to not only break the news to the public (and the Ares 3
crew) but on bolstering Marks survival and the possibility of an eventual rescue. Unfortunately for Mark, communication between Mars and Earth might be a bit
of a problem, as not only was that lethal satellite dish the only source of Sky Digital on Mars, it was also his only direct communication method. But thatís
okay, as Mark was also named MacGyver in a past life.
If you canít tell from my tone above, The Martian tries to come-off as a semi-intellectual movie, but honestly itís quite the far-fetched
endeavour with more than one instance attempting to be serious but bordering on comedy.
Thatís not to say itís a bad film, itís a good one in parts, Matt Damonís performance is consistently believable and he does a great job of narrating
us through the complexities of his solutions - and heíll have many. And that is where The Martian is at itís best, in the small moments with
Mark coming across problem after problem for him to overcome - in true MacGyver esque fashion, in fact I should refer to him as MarkGyver.
But The Martian is at odds with the more realistic tone it is trying to set for itself - with death possible at every turn - it strays much
closer to a popcorn disaster movie, of every bad possibility happening to a single character and then proceeding to unrealistically overcome these obtuse
The visual effectís meanwhile are quite outstanding - as you would come to expect from a budget of over a hundred million - much like the 2013
Gravity, zero-gravity has been handled brilliantly, as has the ambience of space. In fact The Martian shares a lot of similarities with the
aforementioned Gravity, even itís tone in parts. But it just fails to surprise you at any point, offering a well-spun enjoyable Ďpaint by numbersí narrative that
will have you invested in Markís plight for survival and hopefully offer a laugh or two, but that is as far as it goes.
The Martian is no mind-bending Interstellar nor does it have much to say, but if you are looking for an enjoyable 2 hours to invest this
weekend then The Martian will provide that. Offering a consistent performance from Matt Damon with a beautiful setting and visual
effects that culminates in a movie youíll probably forget in a week's time.
The Martian is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD via Amazon or on-demand via Amazon Video.