Ridley Scott is back. Finally, and at long last. Following the dire, bum-numbing banality of the likes of ‘The Councilor’ and ‘Exodus: Plods and Stinks’, and the great looking, gloriously crafted, but ever so daftly plotted, ‘Prometheus’, Scott hits a long-awaited home run with ‘The Martian’.
The script, by Drew Goddard, is the star. It takes Andy Weir’s bloomin’ excellent book, and creates that very best of cinematic pleasures – a bold tale, visually told. Easily on a par with the non-patronising, nail-biting, teamwork ethic, science-for-dummies exposition of ‘Apollo 13’, the stranded, guy-alone tension of ‘Castaway’, and the 3D sci-fi special effects dazzle of ‘Gravity’ and Scott’s own ‘Prometheus’, ‘The Martian’ is a solid, science-fiction as science-fact fan dream.
Including the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Pena and Benedict Wong, the supporting cast are great, but this is Matt Damon’s show and he steals it with wit and wisdom to spare. As Mark Watney, the astronaut stranded on Mars, Damon is always watchable, often funny and decidedly human. And there’s the key to both the book, screen adaptation and performances – a palpably real, beating, human heart at the core, which transforms this from a feel-good sci-fi flick, into a must-see tale of the triumph of humanity, ingenuity, scientific know-how and good old fashioned sense-of-humour, over those less convincing Hollywood staples of “faith”, “hope” and “love” – which may “conquer all”, but are less likely to keep you alive on Mars than a tin-opener and a Swiss army-kinfe.
Entertaining for heart and brain, ‘The Martian’ needs to be seen on the big screen, pulling off that rarest of cinematic feats – remaining true to a great source novel, whilst excelling as a standalone movie in its own right.
Welcome home Mr Scott
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