The Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015)
In Ridley Scott’s The Martian, science meets Hollywood, and philosophical musings are bypassed, creating a successful end product that should appeal to many.
Mark Watney (MATT DAMON!) is left on Mars following an emergency evacuation by his crew during which he is presumed dead. And if there is anyone who a) could overcome those odds, and b) maintain viewer interest for over two hours, it is most certainly Matt Damon. He grows some potatoes from his own shit, manages to contact Earth, and something something science. My lack of scientific knowledge renders me unable to give a detailed synopsis. But according to the internet, the science is fairly accurate, and should please those more well-versed in the subject.
I’ll admit I was a tad concerned upon hearing this, and anticipated another Interstellar: a space film that promised excitement, but that I ultimately came out of going “What the hell just happened?” But! Despite its apparent accuracy, I was still able to enjoy The Martian. There was enough tension, humour, and Matt Damon to sustain my interest. And an excellent disco soundtrack. Although I must say I was aghast at David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ being there, and NOT ‘Life on Mars’. A missed opportunity if ever there was one!
Some have complained that The Martian is too Hollywoodized (even though it does reportedly stay quite true to Andy Weir’s book of the same name). While the formula is pretty standard (and yes, I teared up), it doesn’t dumb things down too much for a mainstream audience, and it manages to find the right balance between smart and accessible. In other words, it doesn’t go the Interstellar route of giving viewers a philosophical mindf*** and time makes a lot more sense.
So overall, The Martian didn’t make me feel as dumb as Interstellar did. Although maybe I shouldn’t sell myself short, given reports that some viewers thought The Martian was based on a true story. That just goes to show that the potential audience for this film is extremely broad. Scientists, non-scientists, the utterly clueless: there’s something for everyone.