Film Review: The Martian

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‘The Martian’ is the latest film to be added to list of sci-fi space epics, featuring an all star cast of Oscar winners and well knowns headed by Matt Damon, a seasoned director in Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) and the brilliant writing talent of Drew Goddard, The Martian is set up to be one of the best movies of the year.

After a storm hits a crew of astronauts on Mars, one member is left behind presumed dead, Mark Whatney (Damon). After NASA find out Whatney is in fact still breathing, it’s up to him to stay alive as long as possible on a planet where nothing lives while NASA figure out a plan to bring him back home as quick as they humanly can.

While The Martian is definitely a good movie, and definitely worth the watch in the cinema, it doesn’t quite live up to expectation and had me a little let down when I left the cinema. On a technical level film has nothing to be ashamed of, every aspect of the production is solid. Quality performances all round the star studded cast (honestly I’ve never heard of a film with so many amazing actors), inspired set and costume design add to the scientific depth, Ridley’s Scott’s titular directing wasn’t absent either. The cinematography is very smart too, using GoPro cameras to create a documentary feel when Whatney is directly addressing the audience about the mathematical and life threatening issues he faces.

However it does suffer from simple issues such as Whatney’s character being too one dimensional, while it’s brilliant and upbeat to have a protagonist be so optimistic in such a dire situation, as a viewer I felt no emotional connection to Whatney, and this isn’t Damon’s fault. There are few scenes in the film where we really feel the scale of the situation on an psychological level. There a couple times Whatney becomes emotional but these scenes aren’t scenes, they’re shots that only last a handful of seconds…In fact I even felt more for Whatney’s crew members who had to deal with the guilt of leaving him behind and the drama of risking their lives going back for him. Other problems occur in the film’s lack of thrilling set pieces, it’s interested to watch as a documentary would be, but physical hooks didn’t appear often enough during the first 3/4 of the film, when they did they were sudden and solved pretty quickly.

Overall, The Martian is solid outing for everyone involved and had me on the edge of my seat for it’s final act. Nevertheless, the film lacked anything special that would have me going out of my way to recommend it to friends or family members especially with so many other films being released this month like Macbeth, Spectre, The Walk and Crimson Peak. While it doesn’t fail to keep the audience interested, The Martian does a poor job of dishing out any touching moments that hit hard, or even hit at all.

Rating: 7.8/10

Words by Levi Aluede

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