Sir Ridley Scott has never been the most emotional filmmaker. Most of the director’s movies have been driven by atmosphere and themes, not so much emotion. But that’s not the case with “The Martian,” a thrilling, human and moving sci-fi picture that is easily the most emotionally engaging film Scott has made in a long time.
Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is stranded on Mars. After a storm hits during the first human expedition to the planet, Mark and his crew are forced to evacuate. However, he gets hurt and separated from his fellow crewmembers, and they leave the planet without him, presuming their friend to be dead. But the charming “space pirate” and wiseass survives, and he has to find a way to communicate with NASA back home and create more resources to stay alive long enough to be rescued. Thankfully, he’s a botanist – and the best botanist on Mars, according to him – which comes in handy with his new mission: survive.
The movie is far from a one-man show. Scott put together one hell of a cast with Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Michael Peña, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mackenzie Davis and more. They all play a role in Watney’s survival. The film, based on Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, is about the effort to save one man’s life. It’s about more than that, but first and foremost, it’s an inspiring story about the brighter side of humanity. “The Martian” is refreshingly optimistic, without any hint of naiveté, about the boundaries humans are capable of pushing and the effort we’d hopefully go to for one life. None of this comes off as phony or insincere, either.