With Mars in the spotlight this week, you don’t require a special nudge to force you to drag yourself to the cinema and enjoy a little bit more of space. Add Ridley Scott, Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain to that, and you’ve got yourself a descent night.
Ridley Scott doesn’t wait too long in 2015 apparently, as with The Martian he went straight for the goal: after a strong storm, Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon), “the best botanist on the planet” is considered dead and left alone by his crew mates. Faced with the limited supplies, no evident contact with NASA, and no help in the tri-state area of the Milky Way, Mark must find the way to “stay alive” and/or contact NASA until the next crew arrives in four years.
Naturally, as expected, being a botanist has it’s charms. Mark manages to find the most efficient way possible to spend time in the solitude: growing potatoes. In the meantime, after a coincidental discovery of his whereabouts, we begin to follow his ex-captain (played by Jessica Chastian – in another phenomenal suited military/moral role) and crew mates faced with guilt for leaving him alone, and, of course, NASA with it’s daily struggle how to get him down (or up?!) to Earth. Well, that’s it with the plot. What did you think, that I’ll give you the rest?
Quite similar to Sam Rockwell’s role in Moon, film’s focus finds its viewers staring at their leading man basically talking to himself, having therefore a psychological game with a computer log. On these particular occasions Damon proved once again of his acting capabilities, and perhaps gave a few lessons to the future and previous similar character-holders (khm, khm). Naturally, with roles like these it is quite considered and expected for Damon to get an Oscar nomination for his portrayal, and rightfully so.
It would be quite reckless from me to just stop here and not pay special attention to some of the supporting roles, whose very memorable (and nicely done) portrayals gave the film a special tone: the roles of Jeff Daniels, the NASA administrator, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the head of NASA’s Mars missions. The emotionless fight within their walls is something that gave this film and additional impetus to “go forward” on it’s path.
The man behind the looks of Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland and Prometheus, Dariusz Wolski definitely considered this film as a special treat and did a very good job doing so. The music score may have been barely noticeable, but the photography was as straight-forward and crisp as it should be. A little-known Andy Weir wrote the story that Drew Goddard (the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, Lost and The Cabin in the Woods, 2012) converted into something easy, less-spectacular but efficient.
This brilliant idea was transformed into a good film, without a doubt. His filmography has proven through history that Ridley Scott do requires a decent screenplay to effectively use all of his directorial vision for a film to be called a success. With The Martian we can finally see some of that well-known magic of the Ridley we remember (and quote very often) from the looks of Alien, Blade Runner and even Black Hawk Down at times.
And like many times before, his films had a duty to dig deeper than what’s on the ground. In this case we don’t only see Mars and a guy that is trapped on a planet. Here we see something even bigger than a plain survival. We see morals above all, and the surviving effect of a human being depending on someone’s ethics. Whether it’s just for a show-off, or a genuine concern, this was another fine example of how, even in the most uncommon situations, we tend to seek and absorb politics and diplomacy as the most effective means for a resolution – a fine image of nowadays reality. Even on a planet where you are the only citizen.