Review: Plenty of life on Mars in fun sci-fi thriller

Matt Damon in The Martian
Matt Damon in The Martian

Matt Adcock (@Cleric20) reviews Ridley Scott’s The Martian (12A), starring Matt Damon

Strap yourself in and prepare for a truly ‘out of this world’ quality sci-fi tale that doesn’t skimp on the ‘sci’ and yet manages to still be thrilling, funny and life affirming.

Master director Ridley Scott delivers an epic big screen adaptation of the bestselling novel by Andy Weir. The plot tells the traumatic story of astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) - mistakenly presumed dead and abandoned on Mars by his crewmates. So, stranded and alone on the hostile red planet, Watney must find a way to establish contact with NASA and survive well beyond his meagre rations on a planet with no harvestable resources.

What follows is a survive-em-up blast that sees Watney’s human spirit and scientific skills stretched to the limit as he grapples with the challenge of surviving whilst millions of miles from safety. Back on earth our top minds, including head of NASA Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and director of the Mars missions Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) struggle to come up with any sort of feasible contingency plan.

To make matters interesting, Watney’s crewmates just might try the most life threateningly daring rescue mission ever committed to screen.

The film’s script incorporates the book’s winningly humorous and genuinely interesting dialogue, and it’s this balance of comic relief in the face of almost certain death that makes The Martian so much fun to watch.

The only minor weakness is for fans of the book’s numerous personal logs by Watney – many which have had to be jettisoned for time constraints – this means that viewers have to work a bit harder to invest enough empathy for the poor guy.

Having said that though, it’s still wonderfully easy to get caught up in this science-based fable, packed with so much technical NASA jargon that you’ll feel like you might have got a bit smarter just from having been exposed to it.

The supporting cast are good value too; Danny ‘Community’ Glover brings some maverick youthful thinking and Watney’s crewmates who include Jessica ‘Interstellar’ Chastain as steely Captain Lewis and Kate ‘Captive’ Mara as the sexy crew nerd Johanssen, give good emotional core to the events.

This is one Martian you should ‘boldly go’ to see.