Matt Damon has gone and got himself in a spot of bother again, and is once more in need of a rescue. This time, he is The Martian. Stranded on the Red Planet. During a trip to Mars, a massive sandstorm strikes their base, and forces the crew to abort their mission. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck by debris, and believed lost and dead. The rest of the crew evacuate. Watney however, is still very much alive, and needs to draw on all his skills in order to survive, in the hopes of a possible rescue some day.
The film is not a high speed action movie. Story pacing is perfectly suited to the long term plan needed by Mark Watney, in order for him to last until rescue arrives. Jumping between the desolate planet and lone survivor, and back to Earth, where the public demands his safe return, and bureaucrats debate expenses, we indeed see both sides of the axis of human nature, the will to survive, and the pursuit of profit.
The Martian is a thriller, even if slightly slower moving. It draws you in, and you find yourself feeling for Watney as he battles through the seemingly mundane daily tasks of survival.
In the midst of all the work of telling us a story on survival, the film finds time to be funny. A lot more than one would expect, with a great deal of this coming from Watney himself. With that, let’s not forget the fun soundtrack either, with some oldies tunes that are bound to bring back memories, as they are juxtaposed with the technology of space travel.
With an all star cast (including Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sabastian Stan and Chiwetel Ijiofor to name a few) the story is expertly carried, and delivered. Couple this with great writing, direction and effects, and you are treated to a tour-de-force when it comes to a great space adventure.
While the setting is millions of miles away, the struggle and will to survive can just as easily occur on a remote island on Earth. The tenacity of the human race, and our ability to dig deep, in the face of death, is a universal story, a story shared by us all.
A engrossing, enjoyable film on survival, and perseverance, The Martian opens Friday 2 October 2015 in South African cinemas.