When pitched a film about a man abandoned on Mars, with limited communication to Earth and limited chance of survival – the first things you think of are definitely not funny quips and 80s dance music.
Ridley Scott’s The Martian is definitely a success. With Matt Damon as the front runner, playing astronaut botanist Mark Watney in his struggle to get back to our home planet after being presumed dead on Mars and left behind. His performance is lively, comedic, passionate, and with every rise and fall that Watney faces, the audience faces with him. When watching this film, I took great pleasure in being swept up in Damon’s performance – feeling joy and sorrow as he enjoys the minuscule victories and huge failures in attempting to survive on a deserted planet. Surprisingly humorous, Watney’s quips cause a chuckle amongst the intense nature of the films’ subject, but it doesn’t feel out of place.
The Martian’s soundtrack is made up of 80s dance classics, from the music collection of Watney’s crew member, left behind on Mars with Watney. As the only music he has access to, it is also the only music we have access to. And it works. As he gets to work, doing tasks such as gardening to the beat of artists such as Donna Summer and Thelma Houston.
With a supporting cast made up of Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara and Sean Bean – The Martian showcases a variety of talented actors pushed to the edges of our universe in order to rescue one man trapped on a foreign planet.
The cinematography is of course, wonderful. Intricate shots of the vastness of space, but more stunning are the constructed shots of Mars. A vast, open desert landscape – caught perfectly on camera as a deadly and threateningly beautiful mystery. The tone of the film is set out through these landscapes, and the magnitude of Watney’s situation is driven home through the physical difference in size between one man and the desolate landscape that threatens to engulf him.
All in all, The Martian is a great success. Gripping, beautiful and emotionally charged, Scott’s latest space adventure is well deserving of it’s success – showing the world just what the digital age of cinema can show us about the world beyond our world.