Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Commentary by Collin Stroup
The Martian is a dream come true for NASA, space travel, and really just science everywhere. Based on the bestselling book by Andy Weir, this film wraps all the science it can fit into a 142 minute runtime and puts a smart-mouthed Matt Damon in the driver’s seat. It might be the perfect film to continue invigorating interest in the space program and science all together, riding that sweet line between entertaining and intelligent.
Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is a botanist on a manned mission to Mars. A massive dust storm forces them to abandon the mission early and while attempting to evacuate, Watney is hit by the base’s antennae and is thought dead. With his crew on their way back to Earth, Watney must now figure out a way to grow food, repair communications with earth, and get back home. While this sounds like the perfect moment to throw in some doom and gloom, this smart, quick witted script from Drew Goddard and subtle direction from Ridley Scott keeps this film pretty light. When it flips the switch for tension though, it brings it as the challenges become more and more difficult.
There are so many obvious directions this movie could have gone that would have made it a run of the mill man vs. wild drama, but it was the less obvious routes it chose to take that made it stand apart. For a movie set in space, it felt delightfully reserved using the setting as a simple backdrop instead of a set piece to traipse across. Sure some melodrama seeped in and the whole “leave no man behind” premise has a few corny moments, but it’s hard to really stick those things to such a likeable, exciting, and well-crafted film.
For more reviews from Collin, visit www.amateurhourfilm.com.