Any time a description of an animal involves the fact that they are a pack animal it is almost like humans look down their noses at them for that reason. Yet when a film like Ridley Scott’s (Prometheus, Gladiator) The Martian comes out we totally relate to the feelings of isolation and loneliness the main character goes through. You can’t have it both ways, people!
Now that we have cleared that up and agree that humans are pack animals and abhor being alone for any period of time. That is the emotion that The Martian plays upon. In actuality this film, which takes place in space or on Mars to be more precise, could take place in a number of places like the desert, on a deserted island or in the middle of the ocean. It is about survival against the elements and human’s strong fight for life. It is not actually a space film, but a very human nature film.
Matt Damon, like most big stars, has had a rather up and down career. When the film he selects is good (Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan, Interstellar, The Departed) it is great and when it is bad (The Monuments Men, The Brothers Grimm, Stuck on You) it is a stinker. The Martian can be added to his good list and a lot of that is due to his performance. The role asks a lot of him as he, for the most part, is alone meaning he has no other actor(s) to play off of. He truly carries the film on his shoulders. And the emotional range is large asking him to be at times defiant, resolute, funny, angry, highly intelligent though always interesting.
During an American manned mission to Mars a huge storm arrives on the red planet and during the chaos of the crew trying to get back to the ship something happens to botanist Mark Watney’s (Matt Damon) suit and the rest believe he has perished. With this in mind the team leader, Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain – The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), decides to take off back to Earth.
When Watney wakens and gets back to the camp he realizes what happened and that he is alone. Not willing to just give up and die, he maps out a plan for survival that involves growing his own food and trying to get in contact with Earth.
Back on Earth, NASA, led by Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels – from television’s The Newsroom) and Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave, American Gangster), discovers that Watney is alive and embarks on trying to figure out how to get him back alive.
Somehow Matt Damon makes us care about this man that we really don’t know that much about. We don’t know anything about his life or why he fights so hard to live in order to get home. Yet we care. It truly is a case of that universal feeling of clinging to life no matter the odds.
This is one of the few films in which science is the hero and is not as boring as watching paint dry. Yes, there is plenty of predictable moments and our heartstrings are pulled on purpose and yet it is still science, astronauts, brilliant people, and the space program the comes off the winners.
Visually the film is astonishing. Ridley Scott, the special effects team and his cinematographer. Dariusz Wolski (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Crow) have managed to make a space movie that looks totally realistic with some of the vistas and landscapes on Mars being incredible. Not that surprising really as Ridley Scott truly is a master of films in space in that he is able to bring personal and intimate moments out of these huge landscapes.
-Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction (1080p; 9:36) Interviews with Andy Weir, Ridley Scott and other crew about different aspects of the film, like the script or some of the film’s animatics.
-Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes (1080p; 14:13) Interviews with some of the crew involved in the spacesuit design.
-Gag Reel (1080p; 7:33)
-Ares III: Refocused (1080p; 17:18) A kind of documentary about how astronaut Mark Watney came to be in this situation.
-Ares III: Farewell (1080p; 3:35) Another fake documentary in which Mark Watney introduces us to the rest of the crew.
-The Right Stuff (1080p; 3:20) “Found footage” of the crew undergoing isolation training.
-Ares: Our Greatest Adventure (1080p; 3:39) Another fake documentary hosted by Neil de Grasse Tyson.
-Leave Your Mark (1080p; 1:03) An Under Armour commercial featuring Mark Watney.
-Bring Him Home (1080p; 1:34) A commercial examining mankind’s determination to rescue stranded astronaut, Mark Watney.
-Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:55)
-Production Art Gallery (1080p; 16:39)