Film Review: The Martian
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★★★★★It’s difficult being on your own. One of the details left out of Drew Goddard’s very faithful adaptation of Andy Weir’s science fiction book The Martian is that lead character, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), has no family beyond his parents. He hasn’t had sex in a long time. Apparently botanists, even botanists who look like Matt Damon, have it tough. But Watney of both book and film is far from a drag; he doesn’t let that situation faze him. He’s a problem solver, an optimist, and a little bit in love with the sound of his own voice; he’s also got a great sense of humour. It helps him to deal with his loneliness. After the brilliant opening five minutes, that loneliness of his will become a whole lot more severe. By a few million miles. Joining the pantheon of great space-based films like Apollo 13, Gravity, and Interstellar, The Martian follows Mark Watney (Matt Damon), an astronaut who is left behind on Mars by his team, presumed dead. Except he isn’t dead. And he’s determined to survive. However back on Earth, when word finally reaches NASA mission control that Watney’s alive, an all-star team (featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Sean Bean, and so many more) help lead the efforts to help Watney survive, while keeping the news hidden from the returning Mars team, led by grieving Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain). Goddard is more than capable of turning Weir’s relatively short but incident packed book into a propulsive and compelling film. His very funny script moves along at a perfectly set pace, calmly moving from one problem to the next, whilst switching between the teams of NASA, Mars, and the Hermes craft in between seamlessly. The game team of actors help bring the characters and the drama to thrilling life. Nearly every one of them gets a chance to be funny and fun, yet they aren’t all copies of Watney. Ejiofor’s Vincent Kapoor is instantly likeable and he communicates a great deal of stress and worry going on beneath a fine veneer of professionalism.
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The Martian is out in UK cinemas now.
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