STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning During an outer space mission around Mars, astronaut Matt Watney (Matt Damon) is separated from his spacecraft, and is presumed dead in the immediate aftermath. Stranded many light years from his home planet, Mark is forced to use his survival training (including fertilising faeces for food!) in order to survive, before managing to contact Earth and bring news of his survival to NASA president Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), who desperately works on Earth with scientist Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to get him home, while re-assuring a frantic public. Having made his name in a landmark sci-fi classic many decades ago, Ridley Scott returns to the genre for a film where the only alien appears to be in human form. His ability to create an impressive visual spectacle doesn't seem to have diminished with time, and The Martian features some sets and designs in outer space that could quite blow your mind. The director oversteps any meaningful character development, and plunges us straight into a story that serves as a lengthier rendition of 2013's Gravity, with elements of Tom Hanks's Cast Away chucked in for good measure. For a film stretching at nearly two and a half hours, it really needed not just an interesting story, but an effective screenplay to match it. While the 'one man stranded in space' plot still has some life in it, Scott seems overly preoccupied with stuffing Damon's Watson character full of insightful technical jargon and waffle, to reassure us he's highly intelligent and 'NASA's finest', to the point of disconnection. To try and balance the script with some humour, Scott has displayed an affection for '70s disco music, which Damon must awkwardly eschew. It's a welcome touch, if not truly effective. Performances wise, Damon must carry the lengthy film almost singlehandedly, and it's his varying degrees as an actor that make as little or most of this. While a better actor could have made more of it, by turns a weaker actor could have made it worse, and so you're grateful for small mercies. In what could be the main supporting role, Daniels is grounded as the head of NASA but, in a film determined to have as much humour as drama, that role he took with Jim Carrey all those years ago (and recently reprised) can never get out your mind. A further colourful supporting cast further make it up, including Michael Pena, Sean Bean and Ejiofor. Overall, it's not an entirely unsuccessful film, just one without the genuine tension and suspense to really make it last as long as it does, and so the cracks do appear at times. ***
Adventure / Drama / Sci-Fi
Adventure / Drama / Sci-Fi
An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
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April 9, 2019