Ridley Scott knows how to embrace spectacle. Utilising a screen’s every frame, the director of hits such as ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner’ clearly enjoys pushing movie technology to its limits. Whilst this hasn’t translated into a consistently good track record with several poor recent films, ‘The Martian’ corrects this. It’s certainly a wonderful looking movie enhancing Scott’s visual credentials. Pace-wise it isn’t that great but those wanting to drink in amazing visions should find much to quench their thirst.
On a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is caught in an astral storm. Abandoned by the rest of his crew, the chances of survival are slim. A determined character, Mark resolves to survive the harsh planet until help arrives. Signalling to earth of his survival, his friends try to bring him home. Alone on the desolate landscape, Mark’s intellect goes into over-drive as he combats all other-worldly obstacles in his path.
Based on Andy Weir’s novel, ‘The Martian’ is big in scope. Scott knows how to project the expansive story with ease. From Mark’s tribulations to the world-wide quest to bring him home, ‘The Martian’ has a true epic sensibility. This is Damon’s show with his easy-going persona well suited to his dogged character. Spending time with him isn’t too difficult as his spirited strength shines. His earth-bound co-stars are equally fine, successfully infusing some character traits in their limited screen-time.
‘The Martian’ works best when showcasing its visuals. Consistently amazing, they immerse the viewer into the alien world in which Mark resides. Despite its surface gloss, at nearly two and a half hours in length ‘The Martian’ tends to over-stay its welcome. Scott fails to reign in his self-indulgence with some scenes dragging thereby lessening the needed sense of urgency. In-spite of these failings, Scott knows how to tackle a solid story with its emotional impact resonating until the finale.
With recent commercial films being all style and no substance, ‘The Martian’ provides a decent antidote. Generally involving, its aims for a genuine big-screen experience are met under the assured gaze of Ridley Scott’s experienced eyes.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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