Pandemic Picks: The Martian

Ridley Scott was shot into the mainstream with his 1979 Sci-Fi thriller Alien, he cemented his position as a visionary director of Science Fiction with 1982’s Blade Runner and then he moved onto other genres. In 2012 he returned to Sci-Fi with the mediocre Prometheus, audiences felt like he had lost his touch when it came to Sci-Fi. Thankfully he proved everyone wrong with the exceptional 2015 Sci-Fi drama The Martian.

Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Andy Weir, The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney as he tries to survive alone on Mars after he is accidentally left behind when his fellow astronauts perform an emergency evacuation of the planet during a storm. The film has a lot of elements to it that make it such a wonderful film, the acting is superb and the characters themselves are deep and believable. The realism in the film is interesting because everything feels like it is something that not only could exist, but will exist in 2035. The realism is due to the fact that the filmmakers consulted NASA in the elements of space travel and Mars.

For the scenes on Mars they shot on location in Wadi Rum, Jordan which if you do a quick Google Search will find that it looks like Mars already, mainly the red sand, this meant that there would be very little colour grading required on the Mars sequences to make it look more like Mars. The photography in the film, especially the sequences on Mars are a wonder to behold, Dariusz Wolski captures the wonderment of being on another planet with an epic scope which harkens back to the cinematography of the great epic adventure films of days gone.

Wadi Rum, Jordan playing the role of Mars

The film is thrilling, it’s exciting and it is also very funny. It has a sense of humour that goes throughout, most of it hanging on Matt Damon’s performance of a solitary man. The trials that Watney goes through are what keep the audience on the edge of the seat, he solves one problem only for three others to occur and yet throughout this all he keeps this sense of humour which prevents the film from falling into a depressive state.

Matt Damon is just one in a huge ensemble cast of characters which are all well defined and unique individuals, not one of them feels two-dimensional or cookie cutter. Looking through the cast list it’s quite a spectacular ensemble, some of the best scenes are character moments that do drive the story forward but also establish more of who they are. One of the best examples of this is the scene where they explain where the name of the Project for Project Elrond comes from, which was in the original book, so Sean Bean’s casting made the scene even funnier as in Lord of the Rings he was actually present on the Council of Elrond.

When we’re all stuck inside films and TV series give us a window into the outside world and you can’t get more out than Mars. I’d highly recommend it to not only Sci-Fi fans but fans of any kind of adventure film.

The Martian is streaming for free on FXNOW in the US and on Netflix in the UK

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