A disastrous storm occurs on the planet Mars not long after a team of astronauts make their landing there. In an emergency situation, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is presumed dead.
Against all odds, Watney survives, with only a measly amount of supplies stored at the base camp of the space force. The stranded ‘alien’ to the planet must find a way to survive until NASA’s next mission, which is only in four Earth years’ time. As days go by faster in Mars, the NASA workers on Earth, along with a team of international scientists, must work tirelessly to bring Watney home.
Less than eager to watch the movie, I thought the story would be flat, to say the least. The monochromatic colours on the poster set a deceivingly one-dimensional tone that I just was not in the mood for that day. But as I watched the film, the way my attention was committed to the screen from one scene to the next, proved otherwise.
But can I also point out how the movie announced its debut just a couple of weeks after NASA announced their discovery of water on Mars? One man – a complete stranger to the planet – on a mission to survive, inhabits it and becomes master over the vast and hostile land. I would be lying if I said The Martian does not provide a gripping narrative. We follow Watney as he makes it through each day through scientific problem solving.
The directional merging of the two worlds is cleverly done as we see how Director Ridley Scott intends to display how life on a different planet is a probable feat. The 3D visuals are almost flawlessly realistic, without even needing to experience the shock of objects flying in your direction.
Where the protagonist finds himself in a somewhat otherworldly situation, all carnality is maintained through Watney’s constant predicament of entropy, merged with the use of technology (Watney uses a webcam built into the system to ‘vlog’ his progress and findings in a similar fashion to what we are used to on social media). Scott has managed to keep one side of the chord attached to Earth and the other side, plugged in to outer space.
It is also interesting to point out how one lone man’s journey is a lot more interesting than the panic, anticipation and confusion happening on Earth. Watney is calm and quit-witted, as he masterfully sustains his life on the planet, conquering many unpredictable setbacks and solving one problem at a time through tactful applications of science. You almost pity the Earth-bound humans at NASA, juggling between public relations missions and the grand undertaking to get Watney back on Earth, safe and sound. You almost want to skip through all the squabble and get back to Watney, who is the hero of the century without even needing to be Earth bound. Where chance is sure to bring chaos, good old science conveniently steps in as the saviour of the hour.
Considering how the director is the same one who directed Exodus, Gods and Kings, which was not even worth watching, The Martian is an interesting juxtaposition against the former film, where the ‘antagonist’ (Ramses) was the most compelling character in the story.
The Martian has Matt Damon, who works like a pro at garnering all the amiability in this one. Scott has definitely chosen all his elements wisely this time, making all the right moves, enough to hit a six.