For some time now, the idea of traveling to another planet has become a Science Fiction theme. The various and famous missions to the Moon were the first step towards an ambitious dream destination that finally drew attention to our planetary neighbor, Mars. Although no human has set foot on the red planet yet (so far), NASA has studied Mars closely over the years, sending a Rover to study it (1996) and the recently discovered news that rivers are currently flowing under its surface.; sign of another step towards the colonization of a planet on which humanity can live.
Although many years may pass before this idea, many media (books, television and cinema) have already proposed possible variants of such space adventures. One of these stories caught the attention of 20th Century Fox and filmmaker Ridley Scott, who adapted the Science Fiction work of author Andy Weir for the film The Martian. Does this film adaptation achieve cosmic perfection or is it a failed cinematic mission to Mars?
During an exploration mission to Mars, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) maintains friendly relations with Alex Vogel (Axel Henny), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), Rick Martinez (Michael Pena) and Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). During a strong storm, Mark falls under the flying debris and the members of his crew think he is dead as they hastily leave Mars and begin their journey back to earth. Unbeknownst to them, Mark is in poor health but alive and soon realizes that he has been left behind, which requires his quick scientific thinking and his instinct for self-preservation to survive his long stay on Mars before he can assemble a rescue team. Back on earth, the Head of NASA, Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), is baffled to learn that Mark is still alive and asks smart people like Vincent Kapoor (civet Ejiofor) and Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) to come up with a Plan to bring the lonely astronaut home. With little time to come up with a precise Plan, NASA intends to achieve the impossible as Mark continues to make Mars his new home, sharing his daily trials and tribulations with a camera to capture his life on the barren red planet.
GOOD / BAD
I remember watching the trailer for this movie and being totally delighted. From what I saw, I realized that this would be a story about survival in space (remotely similar to last year’s gravity). I decided to pick up a copy of Andy Weir’s novel, the Martian, and read the book in about a week. As for me, I found the book very interesting and average in reading for ordinary readers. So I went to the cinema with the premise of a story already ingrained in my mind. After the Film was finished, I felt a joyful excitement, the feeling that the Martian is an exciting and well-executed film that is worth watching and based on an emotional survival story.
“The Martian” is directed by Ridley Scott. Scott, known for films like Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator, takes Weir’s Novel into his own hands to paint a cinematic picture, but retains many of the basic nuances of the book. An example of this is The opening of the film. Instead of presenting the audience with a very tense prologue to the Film, Scott gets to work by opening the Film just before the next Martian storm that separates Watney from the rest of his team. About five minutes after the start of the film, the plot starts moving, eliminating the tedious tasks of explanation and history (just as Weir’s Novel was created). And as in the Novel, the Film tells the story of a man stuck on Mars, while Scott (with screenwriter Drew Goddard) respects the history of the dam, leaving enough time to explore by trial and error the loneliness and overcoming of Watney, as well as the various attempts by NASA to organize a rescue mission. Some changes have been made in some places (including a large untraceable scene near the end of the story), but personally, I think that these changes do not really prevent the Film from being very entertaining.
While Damon plays the main role in The Martian, Scott attracts all the Stars to the cast of the second shot of the film. Actors Kjetevel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels give their weight, playing the role of the focal point on Earth with their characters Vincent Kapoor, head of the Ares-3 mission program, and Teddy Sanders, head of the NASA Administration, who constantly discuss the underlying problems related to attempts to bring Mark Watney home. The members of the Ares-3 crew, consisting of Jessica Chastain, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena, Kate Mara and Askel Henney, are also touched by the expression of their opinion that they have left their fellow astronauts behind. The small supporting roles of several actors, including Benedict Wong, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean and Donald Glover, are also well played. Despite their limited screen time, Scott and Goddard (and even the source material for Weir’s Novel) masterfully use their ability to enhance these characters to strengthen the Film rather than hamper it with a variety of standard characters and fillers.
Similar to last year’s Gravity movie, the Martian is a fantastic picture wrapped in Science Fiction nuances, but with a very emotional part of survival and determination in the wilds of outer space. Director Ridley Scott, despite some skepticism about some of his recent films, has proven that he has created a stellar Film that captures the pomposity of the blockbuster and the powerful human drama of the stellar cast and Weir’s written source. For me, it was a great cinematic experience. There are a few things to complain about in the Movie, but it was an excellent sci-fi rescue thriller that was beautifully crafted and probably the best movie (at the moment) of fall 2015. Mars may be 148 million kilometers from earth, but Scott’s film The Martian takes viewers to the red planet, showing its beauty, peril and fictional story of humanity and Triumph.