The Martian: Solo Mission, by Rudie Obias
Director Ridley Scott has gone through a lot of highs and lows (mostly lows) over the last 10 years. In 2010, his version of Robin Hood was met with contempt and in 2012, Prometheus divided audiences and critics alike. It seems that Scott wasn’t connecting with audiences like he used to with movies like Alien, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down, but his latest film, The Martian, gives a lot of reasons to fall in love with the 77-year-old director again.
The Martian follows Ares III, a manned mission to Mars. Its mission is cut short when a terrible Martian storm threatens their stint on the Red Planet. During their escape, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is terribly injured and left for dead. Surprisingly, Watney managed to survive the storm but is stranded on Mars with only a month of supplies and four years before another mission can come back. With the crew of The Hermes, Ares III’s primary shuttle, and the world believing he’s dead, Watney must figure out a way to grow food, find water, and communicate back to Earth.
With a running time of 141 minutes, The Martian surprisingly moves at a steady, brisk, and engaging pace. The film puts its audience along with Watney as he uses science and math to problem solve his way out of Mars. Throughout the film, Watney keeps his sense of humor to keep his spirits and mind together, as The Martian goes for a lighter tone for a survival story.
It’s actually quite refreshing and, dare I say, fun. It’s strange to say that a movie about a person trying to survive on a distant planet for years and years is fun but Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard pull it off and successfully sell it to an audience. A lot of the film’s personality comes from Matt Damon’s natural movie star charm but his real accomplishment in the film is injecting the character with humanity. It would be easy for Mark Watney to come off as a superhero of science but the real success comes from trial and error and never giving up.
The Martian also features a subplot with the crew of The Hermes and NASA on Earth. NASA figures out that Watney is still alive when routine satellite imaging suggests that something is moving on the Red Planet. Now that NASA figured out that he’s still alive on Mars, they have to come up with a way to bring him back home safely. While NASA butts heads with each other trying to think of the best way to save him, the rest of the world sits and waits for a viable rescue plan. Once that is achieved, they inform Watney’s old crew, who are on their way back to Earth, that he’s still alive on Mars. They have to decide to either go home or go back to the Red Planet to save him.
Ridley Scott does a fine job juggling the film’s storylines, making them clear enough to follow so an audience doesn’t get lost with space and science mumbo jumbo. The Martian focuses on the human elements of survival and rescue instead of a cold and overly intellectual approach, which is why it succeeds instead of other recent science fiction survival stories, such as Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity.
The Martian is exactly the reason why we watch movies. It’s fun, exciting, and a thrilling spectacle with deep emotional payoffs and strong performances from its all-star cast. It’s a movie about the world coming together to solve a problem rather than endlessly arguing and I think that’s something we can all get behind.