Review: ‘The Martian’ is not just realistic from NASA’s perspective Special

Posted Oct 2, 2015 by Sarah Gopaul
Even though the possibility of events in ‘The Martian’ occurring remains science fiction, the story that unfolds is wholly comprehensible and human.
Matt Damon stars in Ridley Scott s  The Martian
Matt Damon stars in Ridley Scott's 'The Martian'
Twentieth Century Fox
Space has truly become the next frontier of movies. However it’s no longer the comedic fantasy dramas that dominated the genre previously. Now filmmakers are utilizing technology to create credible narratives with a basis in real science. It seems every year now film-going audiences are treated to a larger-than-life portrayal of the universe that boasts unparalleled visuals and excellent writing. Director Ridley Scott returns to the depths of space and science fiction for his latest tale, The Martian.
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is one of six astronauts who are part of the Ares 4 mission currently stationed on Mars. However, their operation is cut short by a severe storm that threatens their safety and Commander Lewis’ (Jessica Chastain) decision to evacuate. Regrettably as they are braving the storm to get to the ship, Mark is hit by flying debris and thrown from the group. Unable to locate his body or obtain a reading from his bio-monitor, he’s presumed dead and the remainder of the crew launch. In a twist of fate Mark survives the accident and storm, but is trapped on the lifeless planet alone with limited supplies. What follows is a series of tactics on both Earth and Mars to ensure his survival and facilitate a possible rescue.
With the story beginning on Mars, it’s not long before Mark’s harrowing tale of survival becomes the focus. Regardless of whether the audience believes they know how it will end, the film enthralls them with the fascinating details of how one would go about living on an uncultivated planet as well as the countless issues involved with sending a rescue mission from Earth. The narrative is essentially composed of a series of complex, problem-solving puzzles, which are all conveyed in easy to understand terms. Switching between the two worlds millions of miles apart and the homeward bound crew in the middle, the intricacies and intensity of the movie are constantly evolving.
IFLScience recently published an article examining nine key plot points in the film (spoiler alert) and determining if they were fact or fiction. Many may be surprised to know the majority of the events in the picture are accurate, even if the instigating event is not actually feasible. In fact Scott conferred with NASA consultants to ensure the film is as correct as possible, from equipment to strategies to the visual recreation of the Red Planet which is tremendous.
It may also come as a surprise that this movie about an incomprehensible life-or-death situation is very funny. Mark and his crewmates have a wonderful sense of humour, which makes for some amusing interactions, particularly between Damon and Michael Peña’s character. In addition, as Mark continues to document his solo experiences as a Martian, he keeps the mood light by using sarcasm and comedy in many of his diary entries… He also doesn’t hesitate to tell NASA how he feels using whatever language (there’s a lot of swearing) he finds most truthfully expresses his emotions in a given moment. Drew Goddard’s witty screenplay based on Andy Weir’s equally inspired book of the same name provides an excellent foundation for the performers who give the science fiction story a human touch.
Damon is perfectly casted in a role that requires him to exhibit a broad range of emotions and to do so almost entirely alone on screen, often reacting to inanimate objects and having one-way conversations. Even though he’s usually speaking directly to the camera, there is the unmistakeable impression that he is isolated and not connected to the recording’s viewers. The rest of his crew is played by Aksel Hennie, Kate Mara and Sebastian Stan; while the Earth team includes Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, Mackenzie Davis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig and Benedict Wong. In spite of the sizeable cast required for such a multifaceted story, they each clearly embody their characters allowing the illusion of this still-to-come realm of space exploration to grip audiences for the entire 141-minute runtime.
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor