Film review: The Martian (9 out of 10)

Matt Damon is The Martian
Matt Damon is The Martian

Let’s all cheer - Ridley Scott is back to his best.

The director who gave us Blade Runner, Alien and Thelma and Louise has also recently given us Prometheus, The Counsellor and Exodus: Gods and Kings.

But The Martian is a cracking story, well told, with good performances and special effects that add to the movie rather than take it over.

Matt Damon is the star and puts in what I reckon is one of his finest performances.

He is Mark Watney, a biologist who is part of a mission to Mars.

However, a massive storm hits and he is assumed to be dead and his colleagues blast off for Earth.

But Watney wakes up, alone, many millions of miles from home, with a limited supply of food, water and resources.

He has to to use all his ingenuity to find all the above, plus get a message to Earth that he’s still alive and kicking.

What could have been a dry scientific story is expertly crafted into a very human story about resilience and determination against all odds.

And there’s a nice line in humour as Watney tries to keep sane.

Mars really does look like another planet, rather than a movie filmed on Earth with red coloured soil.

True, the plot has elements of Interstellar and Gravity, but certainly has enough of its own identity to make it able to stand apart.

Along with Damon, Jessica Chastain as the mission commander, Jeff Daniels as the NASA boss and Michael Peña as a fellow astronaut are excellent.

But to be honest there’s not really a poor performance.

On the downside, the excitement on Earth over whether Watney will survive is a tad over the top - would there really be massive screens broadcasting news in city centres across the world?

And if I’m honest the use of some of the music was overdone or ridiculously obvious (Bowie’s Starman, really?).

However, these are minor details, the film overall is a great yarn and you will be rooting for Watney all the way.

Film details: The Martian (12A) 141mins

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol

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