I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be sent on a mission to Mars, so when I saw The Martian (2015) trailer, I knew this film would be right up my street.
Matt Damon is a wonderful actor and so often overlooked – I feel – for strong, male lead roles in recent years, so I applaud the fact that director Ridley Scott et al decided to cast him as the determined and spirited astronaut Mark Watney.
All the way through you are willing Watney to survive, and some carefully timed comedy (plus classic 1970s disco hits) helps lift the mood in what would have otherwise become a very depressing and isolating viewing experience.
Alone in an alien land, millions of miles away from home, The Martian tests man’s understanding of survival. Totally absorbing and memorable. A welcome departure from the tales of ‘little green men’. 5 out of 5 stars (*****)
Considering that for most of the film the audience is predominantly observing Watney’s trials and tribulations (including masterminding a way to grow a plentiful supply of potatoes and persevering with a logical way of communicating with colleagues back on Earth), Matt Damon holds your attention entirely.
This is one of the great successes of the film because it means when rescue is finally close at hand, as the audience, you are willing Watney to survive with every fibre in your body. Scott has sent you on a mission with Watney and you are going to finish this journey – together.
Science writer Calla Cofield asks: could this be the most realistic space movie ever made? Possibly. What do you think?