Ridley Scott’s directing career hasn’t been too hot recently. After making three flops (both critically and financially), Robin Hood, The Counselor, Exodus: Gods and Kings, there must be a way to redeem himself. Scott goes back to his regular sci-fi roots with The Martian, based on the book by Anthony Weir. Forget Interstellar. This is the space travel epic we’ve all been waiting for!
The movie opens up with a mission on Mars. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) and his crew consisting of Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Rick Martinez (Michael Peña), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), and Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan) are caught in a dust storm. They abort the mission; leaving Watney behind after getting struck by debris. Later, he wakes up to find out he’s the only person on the red planet. Watney spends his time using his botanist powers to grow enough food and wits to survive until another mission can save him.
Meanwhile, on Earth, NASA director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) announces the presumed death of Watney. However, engineer Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) reads a message from Watney that he is alive. NASA collaborates with scientists from all over the world to help him get back home.
Unlike most protagonists in survival/isolation movies nowadays, Watney is the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet. He’s like a classier Bear Grylls. His wisecracks (“In your face, Neil Armstrong!”) are everything (I’m surprised how funny the movie is), thanks to the witty screenplay by Drew Goddard. The audience roots for him to make it back home. Damon plays Watney brilliantly. Leading an all-star cast, The Martian is a funny, suspenseful and visually breathtaking journey. This is Ridley Scott’s best since Matchstick Men.