It's hard to imagine anyone not liking The Martian. Based on the Andy Weir novel, filmmaker Ridley Scott returns to form in a very straightforward but pleasing sci-fi film about an astronaut surviving while stranded on Mars. Often described as "science porn", the film takes a procedural and diary style narrative look at science, math, and problem solving while isolated on the red planet.
The Martian boasts an impressive cast as the nature of the film's minimal interactions and few settings allows for a star-studded lineup of comedic and dramatic actors to play together all focused on Matt Damon as the affable asto-botanist Mark Watney. Scripted by Drew Goddard, the film is both intimately minimalistic and dazzling visually with many small moments of character depth and scenes of deep space throughout.
Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, and Chiwetel Ejiofor play nicely off each other on the ground as NASA officials struggling to manage the public relations story just as they devise a way to rescue Watney. Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Aksel Hennie have good chemistry as the astronauts who accidentally abandon Watney and continue their mission. Both Mackenzie Davis and Donald Glover add a mixture of youth and comedy into the fold as NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory techies used to make some of the science more digestible in the film.
Scott, Damon, and Goddard have crafted a very successful, nuts and bolts sci-fi drama in the mould of Cast Away meets Gravity. It's a streamlined story blending genres and thriller elements to heighten internal character conflict and a classic story of survival. The Martian is easily one of the year's most enjoyable studio films as it hits all its notes satisfying the exact story it aims to execute while injecting a love of science and space travel as a love letter to NASA.
More | YVArcade / AV Club / ScreenCrush / The Playlist