By Aaron Stiles
Since 1969, when the world watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon, the human race has been obsessed with space. Even before then, human beings have looked to the stars in awe.
In recent years, the American government has severely cut NASA’s budget, making some people wonder if anyone is still interested in space at all anymore.
And then recently, Elon Musk’s SpaceX found evidence of recently flowing water on Mars, and people are finally looking up again. This is the perfect time for a film like The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, based on the novel by Andy Weir. This is the epic space adventure the world needed.
The Martian centers around a group of scientists who are doing research while living on Mars. When a massive storm hits, their laboratory outpost is swept away, causing them to evacuate the planet. As the scientists are trying to flee, Mark Watney (Damon) gets left behind. From there, he must survive on Mars until a rescue mission from Earth to retrieve him is formulated.
The film is already gaining acclaim for its realistic depictions of astronomic technology and extrapolative living off of Earth. Since most sci-fi films bend the rules of science quite a bit, it’s a refreshing change.
The low gravity scenes were comprehensible and didn’t make the audience as nauseous as some space films are known to do. The CGI was beautiful, for the most part. The only scenes that looked a little cartoonish were the scenes that included space suits.
The movement of the astronauts’ suits looked a little light and feathery, rather than concrete. The story is arguably The Martian’s strongest point, with smart dialogue that everyone can understand, as well as some witty jokes tossed in throughout. There was also a lot of physical comedy thrown into the film that provided even more entertainment.
Ridley Scott’s directing is definitely on point with the way that all of his scenes cascade into each other seamlessly. Damon is definitely a favorite of American audiences, but unfortunately his performance in this film isn’t anything special. There isn’t anything about his acting that is different than in most of his previous films, especially in the last few years.
The crew that had been stationed on Mars (Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Askel Hennie, and Sebastian Stan) also didn’t give extremely stellar performances and weren’t given much screen time in general. Jeff Daniels’ acting was also a bit stiff and uninspired. The best performances in the film were Donald Glover for his comedy acting and Mackenzie Davis for her humor and wit in the film, but most of the acting was lacking in versatility. Damon delivered some of the humor well, but there wasn’t any Oscar-worthy acting anywhere in the film.
All in all, this is a good adventure film that all audiences can enjoy several times over. It’s a solid sci-fi film that holds its own against films like Contact and Scott’s first foray into the sci-fi realm, Alien, but doesn’t quite provide the same levels of excitement or great performances.