Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Andy Weir (book) Drew Goddard (screenplay)
Runtime: 141 min
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, etc
RRR: 8.6/10 Letter-grade: A-
I always get excited for adaptations of my favorite books, just like I did last year. Gone Girl ended up to be my most favorite. Even further, The Perks of Being a Wallflower sneaked in my all time favorite list, just as I rewatched it multiple times.
The Martian turned out to be an amazing adaptation - as joyful and entertaining as Weir's brilliant work. In fact, I loved most parts of the book, because it was smart, with quirky humor and delightful main character. Andy managed to create the most realistic story about living on Mars, so realistic that you will never cast a doubt on anything he writes. Having said that, there were few parts where a though of skipping couple of pages crossed my mind. Anyways, I read all of it.
Shrinking this huge book to 141 minutes film is unimaginably hard but Ridley Scott did it. Luckily, he left out my least favorite parts of the book, like long travel to MAV. In the end he made one of the most enjoyable films of his carrier and directed Matt Damon to his best performance in years.
Speaking of cutting the film, the long time duo of Scott and film editor Pietro Scalia (who won his second Oscar for Ridley's Black Hawk Down) did an amazing job. Most scenes are so well edited that they take your breath away, especially in the final part of the movie, where a lot spinning and floating happens. For the sake of protecting you from spoilers, I will not breakdown each scene.
I had more expectations for cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, who shot beautiful Prometheus. I always think of sci-fi as a genre, where camera crew and special effect supervisors have enormous chance to invent something extraordinary, to go beyond the imagination and surprise the audience. Just like Emmanuel Lubezki did in Gravity. Despite some gorgeous shots in The Martian, there are few scenes which I can remember for a long time - one of them pictured above. I think that shot is just amazing, it is freakishly symmetrical. The line where board ends is like separator of two different worlds: cosmos and the earth. And the way colors interact with each other, ugh, can't even describe my feelings.
Cast that huge always works. But kudos to two times Emmy winner Nina Gold for such an amazing collaboration between A list actors. I am quite sure I will be speaking for everyone when I say that Matt Damon is the best Mark Watney we could have probably hoped for. He is naturally as charming as I imagined Watney while reading the book. I am not saying it because his ass popped in my face in 3D, but because he's got very likable face and voice and Damon nailed all the jokes. His portrayal of arrogant, straightforward, smart, optimistic and all positive astronaut proves Gold's phenomenal casting choice. Above of all it, every other actor is a perfect fit to their characters, but especially, Donald Glover whose few minutes on the screen as Rich Purnell is a moment of joy. In contrast with the book, his character was one of the most memorable ones in the movie.
When I left the cinema, there were few things I wished I remembered more vividly. One of those is music. Harry Gregson-Williams's original soundtracks neither impress nor stays memorable for a long time. I remember watching Interstellar and no matter how much you like the film, Hans Zimmer's music never leaves your mind. And I wished someone like him (is it even realistic?) composed for The Martian. It would have made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. Music has a vital role in living through the film, especially in a (mostly) single character movie, where non verbal details express the verbal emotions. A good music could have made Mark Watney's experience both more dramatic and funny the same time.
I feel like I have to say few words about the outraging comparison to Interstellar, which is both unfair and incorrect. While Nolan told the story with superficial, yet complex and utterly boring science, The Martian looks like more practical survival guide for those stuck on Mars. It does not have a claim of solving all mankind problems, or exploring the human nature, or pursuing the destiny of persons, it merely tells a story of courage and dedication. In fact, the only common thing for both movies is a space and I'd be true to myself if I say that I enjoyed Ridley Scott's work a lot more.
To cut it short, The Martian is the most enjoyable blockbuster movie I've seen in 2015 so far. And people, who say that it is the best work for both Ridley Scott and Matt Damon in years, are absolutely right.
In your face, Neil Armstrong!