I kinda like Ridley Scott. I prefer the stuff his brother Tony did, but they’ve also worked together so much (see The Good Wife), that you sometimes have to stop and think “which one was that?” I’m a big fan of Kingdom of Heaven, G.I. Jane, 1492: Conquest Of Paradise, Thelma & Louise. Later movies, most of the ones he’s produced, I haven’t been too keen on.
The Martian though, had me hooked from the first time I saw the trailer. I mean, come on, think about it. There you are, on Mars, a planet so far away it takes around 260 days just to get there. And that’s dependent on orbit, so it can be a lot longer. No way to signal home, limited supplies. And everyone thinks you’re dead. I just knew I had to see this.
It’s the near (?) future and we’ve already had manned missions to Mars. On the latest one, Aries III, the crew made up of Captain Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Rick Martinez (Michael Peña), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan) and of course Mark Watney (Matt Damon) has been conducting experiments, but they’re suddenly warned about a storm. Watney suggests staying put and waiting it out, but Lewis wants to evacuate. On their way from their base to the shuttle, Watney gets hit by debris and disappears into the darkness. Though they try to locate him at first, the crew eventually give up, believing he’s died.
The next morning, Mark wakes up, stranded. Realising he’s alone and hurt, he makes his way to safety and immediately starts recording his progress using the video cameras installed everywhere. Unfortunately, without a satellite, he has no way of contacting Earth.
After methodically calculating how much food he has and how long it will last him for, and knowing that the next mission to reach him is planned four years later, Mark decides to get creative. As a botanist, he wants to try and grow potatoes on Mars, a planet without water, and where so far nothing has grown yet.
On Earth, Nasa is starting to realise that Watney might not be dead, as images reach them showing things moving around the base. Starting to monitor the movements, they realise Mark might be able to find a way of contacting them using an old satellite they sent up years ago.
As they finally manage to re-initiate contact, Nasa holds off telling the crew their friend is alive. Instead, they try to figure how to send him supplies that will last until they can reach him. But things aren’t easy and the more time passes, it becomes absolutely critical to figure out a way to save Mark.
The movie is long, but nowhere near as long-winded as Interstellar. Matt Damon excels as the scientist desperate to survive who, and I quote, “has to science the shit out of this”, and the cast surrounding him is outstanding (Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean- yes, there’s even a LOTR reference).
You’re gasping every time something goes wrong, sighing in relief everytime it works out. You root for the impossible, and growl at ridiculous suggestions. At some point Jeff Daniels says something along the lines of “we can kill 6 people, or just kill one. It’s not bigger than one man”, to which Sean Bean replies “yes it is”. I agree.
A must-see movie for science-fiction aficionados or action movie fans.
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