Today: July 24, 2024
THE MARTIAN

The Martian

It’s a curious fact that Ridley Scott’s most engaging and commercially successful film in years doesn’t feel at all like a Scot Free product. Along with his brother, the late Tony Scott, Ridley Scott honed his filmmaking skills working on commercials and the result is a visual style that critics often deride as a parody of the over-designed advertising aesthetic. In many ways, this is true. His films have a lush, artificiality that occasionally rely too much on smoke and mirrors – sometimes almost literally.

All of this makes Scott’s latest film, The Martian, even more remarkable. Scott still has his sure eye and love of detail but, in recent years, he has dialled back some of his trademark gimmicks. The result is The Martian; a sci-fi that is lovely to look at while feeling both real and very human.

If you’ve read the book, then you’ll know that Andy Weir’s The Martian is an old school, hard-science read which, while engaging, has little of that ‘humanity’. Weir’s stranded astronaut, Mark Watney, is a barely sketched out character. But Scott and Matt Damon (who plays Watney) deliver a very different interpretation. Despite the staggering odds of Watney surviving to be rescued The Martian is relentlessly upbeat, buoyed along by a disco-themed soundtrack that you’ll either love or hate.

An ensemble cast includes Jessica Chastain – powerful and compelling as the Ares III Mission Commander who initially made the call to leave Watney behind believing he was dead, and now desperate to make things right. Donald Glover is superb as JPL wunderkind Rich Purnell; managing to inject charm and humour into every onscreen moment. Chiwetel Ejiofor is surprisingly whimsical as Vincent Kapoor, NASA’s Mars Mission Director. While Sean Bean, playing Mitch Henderson, surprises everyone by not dying.

The dramatic moments manage to be heart-thumpingly tense, even on a second viewing, without ever resorting to overlong, pointless action sequences. The emotions are a pitch perfect too; engaging but never mawkish. The Martian is that increasingly rare thing: a film with a cracking script (from Cabin In The Woods writer Drew Goddard), and memorably engaging characters that leaves you smiling. Simply Ridley Scott’s best film in years.

The Martian is released on Digital HD 25th January 2016 and on 3D Blu-ray™, Blu-ray™ & DVD 8th February 2016

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

Previous Story

Godard: The Essential Collection

Next Story

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Latest from Blog

Memory

Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Twisters

Twisters is the sort of film we just don’t get anymore. Unashamedly simplistic in its traditional structure and characters, the film isn’t trying to challenge you in any way – it just

Malcolm X

In the history of cinema there has not been a filmmaker as important, as celebrated or as powerful as Spike Lee in examining race relations. Almost without fail his films give a

The Time Bandits

You can’t go far wrong with the Time Bandits as source material, and even if the first season of Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement and Iain Morris’ reimagining is more of a set-up

The Weak and the Wicked

Based on the best-selling book, Who Lie in Gaol, about the prison experiences of author Joan Henry, The Weak and the Wicked (1954) is a landmark film from British director, J. Lee Thompson.

The Double Crossers

Following in the footsteps of Golden Harvest’s Bruce Lee vehicles, The Double Crossers was the result of the company’s search for a new martial arts headliner. Starring starring South Korean actor Shin Il-ryong, who
Go toTop