I think of the reviews I have read, the Guardian (shock, horror) summarises this film most appositely:
Left for dead on the red planet following a scientifically anomalous but narratively necessary windstorm, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon, giving Cast Away-era Tom Hanks a run for his money) must hunker down for the long haul, knowing that any rescue mission is years away. Luckily, he is quite literally “the best botanist on the planet”, and after declaring that he’ll have to “science the shit” out of his Robinson Crusoe situation, he discovers that it is indeed possible to grow potatoes in his own poo. Guardian
In this strange and wonderful isolation time Netflix is our best friend. It pays to watch out for those special movies which come on every now and then in the deluge of vulgarity that Netflix spews out weekly. If you’ve managed to avoid such trite crass as Love is Blind (mocked here wonderfully by two discerning Drag Queens), The Martian offers a serious introspective into true isolation. If you thought the lockdown was bad, imagine not having access to shower facilities for 18 months.
For all of Scott’s visual prowess and Damon’s human centre, the unsung hero might be screenwriter Drew Goddard, lacing the storytelling with wit, energy and an approach to the science that is graspable without being over-simplistic. He also solves the book’s interior-monologue problem. Empire
The aspect of this film which most impressed me was that in spite of essentially being about one person on a deserted planet surviving for roughly one year and seven months, Ridley Scott kept it interesting and engaging throughout. This is no mean feat. Of course, Matt Damon being the star he is helped a great deal. The internal tribulations of the Director of Nasa (Jeff Daniels – Dumb and Dumber), as pitted against the desires of the crew who left Watney behind (lead by Jessica Chastain – IT Chapter 2) make for scintillating viewing. Another actor who knocked it out of the galactic park for me was Donald Glover (Community, writer and singer of This is America). Watch out for his nervous disposition providing a marvellous plot twist when you least expect it.
Matthew has asked me to make a special mention of a Lord of the Rings joke, which is not to be missed. A secret meeting, which decided the fate of Watney was called Project Elrond. Sean Bean, in Lord of the Rings, was appointed to look after the One Ring by Elrond before dying (shock, horror). Sean Bean plays Mitch Henderson, Hermes flight Director in The Martian. To those who, like me, do not find this funny in the slightest, here are some words from Matthew:
This is a direct nod to Lord of the Rings, and is funny because this meeting’s nomenclature is decided by the very actor who dies quite tragically in the former film. Boyo
Also, I would like to draw your attention to Nick Mohammed who plays Tim Grimes in the Martian. See him in the below video having his bottom roundly kicked by two other discerning Drag Queens:
Overall, the Martian is an excellent, high concept, high budget experience. This is one of the few films I have watched all the way through without pausing or skipping. This is high praise indeed from someone as impatient as I am. See the trailer below and catch it on Netflix before they take it down in favour of another mind numbing dating show. Whatever will they desecrate next?