The Martian - This Movie Rocks The Shit Out Of This
Dir: Sir Ridders of Scott
Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniele, Chewetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Donald Glover
Some of us here at lastword were invited to Matt Damon’s 33rd birthday party somewhere in deepest, darkest Prague – hash cakes optional, the lovely lamented Heath Ledger on the wheels of steel, and margaritas till dawn. The point being, if you choose to spend an evening with Matt on Mars you will be in such company now as we were then, that of a remarkably amiable man – and, more importantly in this case, that of a remarkable performer.
In The Martian you spend a lot of time with Damon the astronaut presumed dead and left behind on the first NASA trip to Mars, and therefore, in his own words, forced to “science the shit out of” his somewhat dire situation.
The Martian – the movie, not the man - marks the best work Ridley Scott has done by a mile for nearly 15 years (yes, we mean since Gladiator.) But it stands or falls on the central performance of Damon. It’s not Robinson Crusoe, it’s not Tom Hanks in Castaway, it’s very simply a note perfect delivery of all the emotions someone could experience in such an extraordinary situation, made understandable by a beautifully humanistic performance. And one that is also full of great humour. In short, WOW! In long – make sure this man has an acceptance speech to hand (if Academy types can look beyond the sci fi trappings.)
And the film that stands behind said performance is no slouch either. Scott is so invigorated here that he knows how to play every moment – from the brilliant supporting cast of Chastain, Ejiofor, Pena, Daniels and more, to the music – a bizarre collection of (explained in context) disco that peaks with Abba’s Waterloo and transcends with Bowie’s Starman.
This is a great example of a filmmaker and a really decent scriptwriter –Drew Goddard take a bow – taking an already popular novel (by Andy Weir) and elevating it to a piece of mainstream mass entertainment that both excites and confounds expectations to make something above the ordinary. Just as the space programmes has always demanded a view of the world beyond the everyday, The Martian creates a drama that enthrals and inspires. Everyone involved can stand proud in its deeply engrossing, impactful delivery.
(Though we could have done without Gloria Gaynor on the end titles!)
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