This is going to be a tough year for best movie. We’ve had some real high quality delivers and the year has still to finish, with James Bond, Yoda and Tarrantino still to make an appearance. The Martian was one that came out of no where. The trailer was giving the same excitement I had for Interstellar. Though that sadly failed to deliver on what was going to be a great story. So I was a little nervous committing too emotionally to the trailer to avoid a major let down.
After getting my act together and ready to fly the next day, I found myself with a few hours to kill, which happened to be opening night of The Martian. Being someone that has no problems going to the cinema on my own, I trotted off to what was a complete packed out first showing. Contrast this to the same first showing of Man From Uncle, which was near on empty.
The story is a wonderful setup.
A martian mission goes wrong when a storm suddenly appears and while they are attempting to get off the surface an accident happens rendering Mark Watney (Matt Damon) left behind, thought dead. There is no time wasted in setting this up, with this all done in the first 5 minutes.
After this, the story is one of survival, from both Mark’s prospective as being someone stuck on Mars, with no contact with Earth, trying to work through growing food and NASA back on Earth trying to figure out how to get a rescue mission up and ready to get him.
What is wonderful about this story, is that there is no added contrived drama – there is enough going on to not need any extra drama. There is no bad guy (even though the trailer seems to suggest that Jeff Daniels NASA director is a potential candidate). Even the Chinese space agency are seen to be co-operative. It is a joy to not see this, but focus on the real problem – how the hell do you get a remote stranded astronaut home?
The depth of science and realism is breath taking. NASA fully got behind this movie and the only compromise they made was the initial storm at the start, which is the only real completely-off-the-chart unrealistic part. Andy Weir, the writer of this story, successfully wrote this as his first book and was a big proponent to get the science right. So much so, I actually thought for a while that Weir was an ex-astronaut himself.
The Martian delivers with both black humor (a lot actually), cool science, clever problem solving and a whole bunch of characters were none are actively creating any problems to not bring him home. It keeps you glued to your seat in way that that I haven’t been since Django.
Ridley Scott is back with a massive hit with this one, since his rather limp
Exodus: Gods and Kings outings.
The only criticism I can point to, is that it suffers from the Saving Private Ryan problem – you will never capture the awe and wonderment from the first viewing and subsequent viewings will feel a little empty. Though that won’t stop me from seeing it again.
Original story, original movie, faith restored in the movie industry.
Thursday, 1st October 2015