Without an ounce of doubt in my body as I write this review, I can tell you that The Martian is Ridley Scott’s best film since his sci-fi magnum opus, Blade Runner. I’m sure the smart mouth botanist Mark Watny would concur. With a riveting cast, tense action, captivating dialogue, and crisply shot work behind the camera by Ridley Scott’s regular Dariusz Wolski, who also photographed this week’s other eye-catcher, The Walk, The Martian is a cinematic joyride and a film we will be fawning over for decades to come. It also has an extraordinary script that may very well find itself being nominated this award season for best screenplay adaption.
Left behind and left for dead on Mars in The Martian, botanist Mark Wanty is trapped by a terrifying storm that had him presumed dead. But, the smart mouth and literally “the best botanist on the planet” has survived and the only way to keep on surviving before a rescue mission is set, he’ll have to “science the shit” out of his Cast Away like situation.
The Martian’s set up was simple and quick to the point. Although I am not a fan of expositional dialogue, it is an integral part of the story (the book itself was a first person narrative so it only makes sense), and also fitting to Mark Watny’s character. The film is nearly two and a half hours in length yet it goes by quickly and leaves you on the edge of your seat. Usually Act II in any film can make or break an audience on their perception of the picture but I can happily say that The Martian had no such problem.
Act III wraps the film up nicely and leaves you completely satisfied. Along side Matt Damon the cast also includes Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover, and Benedict Wong – although they may act as just mouth pieces to help feed the audience the plot, I’ll let it slide because it was enjoyable and didn’t leave me with secondhand embarrassment.
From top to bottom the film production of The Martian is flawless. Eye popping cinematography, perfectly paced editing, set designs that will take you to a new planet, sounds that echo through the theater to make you feel as if you are with Mark Watny, and costume designs that seems too real to be true. Everything is believable and looks tangible. The CGI isn’t overused or too cheesy and is only used when necessary.
A film is a magic trick composed of moving pictures that juxtapose one another to create a narrative. When you walk out of theater in amazement and ponder on how the film was made (especially filmmakers themselves) you know you have watched something special. The Martian had me invested from the minute it began to the moment it ended. I felt lost in a world that seemed so close and most importantly, I felt like a kid again watching a movie for the first time.
Ridley Scott sneaks you in the back door of his world and it’s easy to forget you are watching a film. The Martian has brought back the true magic and adventure of blockbusters that’s missing for many years. For the first time in seemingly ages I forgot I was watching a movie. That is the ultimate magic trick and Ridley Scott is the magician. Not only is the audience having fun watching it, you can tell that Ridley Scott had more fun making it.