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.
The Martian, like other recent space films such as Gravity and Interstellar, manages to exceed expectations and bring in tons of fun, character, and suspense. Although the marketing may have made it loom to similar to Gravity and Interstellar, it differs vastly with its plot, setting, tone, and overall theme. Matt Damon is excellent in the lead role. He is very charming, funny, and determined to survive. He is written very well, and when the stakes are very high and you know he might not survive, you are brought to high suspense. Jessica Chastain, like always, is badass and powerful in her role. Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sean Bean are also great as a few NASA operatives down on Earth. Everyone else, including Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Michael Pena are great as some Ares 3 crew members.
The directing by Ridley Scott is perfect. Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors, and has directed some of my favortie movies (including Gladiator), but lately hasn’t been at his best, considering how terrible Robin Hood (2010) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) were. The Martian is a fantastic return for him, and allowed me to regain my faith in his contemporary work, and films of his that are yet to come. Scott focuses the film exactly where it should be (mainly Watney’s survival attempts on Mars, and NASA/the Ares 3 crew’s attempts to rescue him) when it is supposed to be focused on that aspect of the plot. Although the film is nearly 2 and a half hours, the length feels perfect and stretched well. The movie, unlike other recent space films, focuses much less on the visual effects and more on the plot, which in this case is done terrifically, but the visuals are still beautiful when you look at them. The film’s plot is thrilling, exciting, and always entertaining, never dragging or feeling rushed. The writing is great, as it constantly includes tons of humor, and doesn’t take itself too seriously at times. By the climax of the film, I was so thrilled and on the edge of my seat, and when the movie was over, I had a smile on my face because of how fun and awesome this movie was.
The Martian is a great return for Ridley Scott, with fantastic performances, directing, writing, visuals, cinematography, story, and suspense. The Martian is the best movie I have seen all year, is a definite must-see for ages 12-13 and up, and will leave you thrilled, and on the edge of your seat.