Sci-fi film effectively combines humor and drama
"The Martian," based on the novel by Andy Weir, follows the gripping journey of an abandoned astronaut, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) on Mars. The film shows a new cinematographic perspective of space, in which everything doesn't have to be so scary. It demonstrates that it's possible to overcome the most daunting situation while staying rational and positive.
Watney was sent to Mars on a manned mission of Ares III, but was swept away during a rough windstorm. His crew left him behind, thinking him to be dead. With a meager food supply, depleting oxygen and fragile equipment, Watney is forced to rely on his knowledge of space and botany to survive. With his survival completely in his own hands, he faces his predicament with a shocking optimism and bravery. Watney chronicles his steps for survival in video journals, while NASA tries to figure out a way to bring him home.
Surprisingly, instead of a stressful drama, "The Martian" is one of this year's feel-good movies. Director Ridley Scott manages to lighten the intense story of Watney through his interpretation of Weir's novel. Watney's upbeat attitude is compelling despite being in the worst possible situation: alone for 100 plus days with a depleting food supply and a risk of dying any second from a lack of oxygen or water. He manages to keep going, with unwavering hope.
"The Martian" inspires the audience with a series of montages of Watney working on Mars with NASA's help, with beautiful music from composer Harry Gregson-Williams. During intense scenes that might usually feature dramatic orchestra music, "The Martian" plays lighthearted disco music. Watney plays the tunes and jokes about his commander's awful music taste, providing a humorous aspect to the film. It's hard to feel scared when "Hot Stuff" is playing in the background. The NASA commanders use science in a number of clever and creative ways to try and keep Watney alive. He has to work everyday to start a potato farm using only Martian soil, his own waste, and dangerously burning hydrogen gas to make water. The transitions between the settings of Mars and Earth are smooth and purposeful.
The stellar acting contributes to the effectiveness of the relatable characters. The friendship between Watney and his commander, Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) is a dramatic addition to the story. Chastin plays Lewis with a commanding, yet sympathetic voice. Damon's performance excels in the film. He plays the character with a humble attitude, and incorporates humor. He stands as a comfortable figure in a bad situation. Back on Earth, Donald Glover plays a key scientist named Rich Purnell with a refreshingly kooky attitude.
The computer-generated scenes of Mars seem almost life-like. "The Martian" transports the viewer right into the vast sandy redness of Mars with beautiful special effects. Realistic costumes and makeup choices strengthen the film. Damon's physical deterioration heightens the stakes. Spacesuits worn by Damon and his crew replicate the ones worn by real astronauts.
"The Martian" will leave you inspired. Scott ties together a captivating work of fiction with subtlety and humor. And after recent news, the film is made only more compelling. Since the recent discovery of water found on Mars, maybe Mark Watney really could survive on Mars.
The Martian is rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images and brief nudity and is now playing everywhere.
Maniza Habib. Hi! My name is Maniza and I'm the 2016-17 managing and news editor! My favorite color is black because it looks good on everyone and I love to dance because anybody can! Also, babies are my favorite kind of people and I love watching The ... More »