The Martian has so much intrigue created before the movie even knocked on the doors of cinema halls by virtue of the people that were at the helm of riding this train which could have so easily shipwrecked (but didn’t).
Ridley Scott has spent enough time in this forte, that messing this up would’ve entailed nothing but his ridicule. Someone who’s watched the likes of Aliens or Prometheus is well aware of what sorta cinematic indulgence they are due; whether it’s the cinematography of space or the gore that plausibly exists in the beyond of our known universe. Interestingly however, Scott has gone on to attempt something that differs so wildly when it comes to the tonality of his films. This movie has humour. It has intent that’s not native to Scott’s work. The transitional pan shots, and our tour through the landscapes of Mars are all hitting the deck.
In a market where you’d think Space is probably over-done as a genre, Scott was very perceptive in avoiding the science of it all, and instead letting us embrace the characters in whom we’d rather invest our emotions. That being said, Matt Damon has the mammoth responsibility of carrying the weight of this movie singularly. Damon, by this point has his fair share of being stranded in space that that experience clearly reflects itself in his performance here. (Alright I was trying to be funny here, but you get my drift.)
All the other secondary characters aren’t necessarily underplayed and keep this movie rolling. You have some huge names like Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kata Mara, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig and even Danny Glover very randomly finding his way into this story. I’d believe that it was important that these actors are of such acclaim because we also want to be able to take these secondary characters equally seriously.
Scott makes a bold move in not exposing the emotional vulnerability Damon’s character could repose, being imprisoned billions of miles away from his known world, and literally no one or no thing that could help him get through with it. Again, uncharacteristically, Scott chooses to lighten up that aspect and bring some colour by dropping in some laughs. For instance how Damon’s character has problems with the music taste of Chastain’s character.
The most conflicting aspect of this movie for me is that it is a sequence of possible improbabilities. The simple thing here is that, the first act creates the scenario of being stranded in Mars, second act is about how he copes with it and the final act is the happy ending which I have no problems with because I always side happy endings. So Scott threw in tons of hurdles on this travel through the three acts. But each of these hurdles are seamlessly overcome. When it comes to screenwriting, this is as tricky as walking on thin ice, but I’d give Drew Goddard the edge and say he waded through in one piece. Only because I can’t imagine it being bettered given what he had at his disposal. But I’d cut him some slack because the intrigue was alive right through every act, which is good enough, but probably not when it comes to rewatching the movie.
The music scoring is sufficient enough and the cinematography deserves a pat on its back. The Martian at the end of the day can enjoy the glory it attained simply because it did deserve it.