During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring "the Martian" home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney's safe return. Based on a best-selling novel.
Matt Damon and Sir Ridley Scott prove a stellar combination in The Martian, a fantastic and faithful adaptation of the best-selling novel.
Scott is defying his age at the moment, at 77 he’s somehow wound back the clock to Bladerunner /Alien heyday with some deft direction. After some absolute duds like Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counselor, it was a smart move to jump aboard The Martian after writer Drew Goddard vacated the director’s chair. Scott slips in without any usual baggage (like Prometheus) and makes a movie about one guy stranded on mars highly entertaining, visually stunning, heartfelt and incredibly tense.
And Scott isn’t the only one returning to form. Matt Damon has been in the Hollywood wilderness since the blockbuster Bourne series, with mostly supporting roles and the odd indie success like Behind the Candelabra. But he’s back to Good Will Hunting leading-man form as the stranded spaceman Mark Watney, showcasing his dramatic chops with a good dose of good humour thrown in too.
It’s the laughs that really lift The Martian, with writer Drew Goddard (World War Z) delivering a surprisingly funny flick - with plenty of edge of your seat drama - in what could have been another seriously drawn-out Interstellar (spoiler alert, Matt is not typecasting himself here). Not only funny but smart too, with Goddard sticking close to the page-turning and scientifically accurate source material (author Andy Weir is a self-confessed NASA nerd).
But wait there’s more, including an array of stars shining in tiny but powerful parts. Just check out this roll call: Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Danny Glover, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. And that’s not forgetting the brilliant and hilarious disco soundtrack - featuring ABBA, Gloria Gaynor and Bowie - that works on so many levels.
While he doesn’t refrain from his space-opera running times – The Martian clocks in at two hours and twenty minutes – Scott definitely delivers the thrilling payload we’ve been waiting for. Let’s hope he doesn’t leave us stranded again when he returns to his Aliens franchise.
The Martian is stellar entertainment, delivering on quality drama and old-fashioned thrills plus a lot of good laughs. A welcome - and long-awaited - return to form for both Ridley and Matt.
DVD Releases: 29th February 2016
Duration: 141 minutes
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Donald Glover
Director: Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Exodus Gods and Kings)
The writer of the novel, Andy Weir, first published his book for free on his own site as a blog for fun. Then people asked him to put it in a downloadable form, then people asked him to put it on Amazon for Kindle download which he did at the then min price of $0.99.
The film was shot in Wadi Rum, Jordan, which has a red coloured desert.
The atmospheric pressure on the Martian surface averages 0.087 psi, about 0.6% of Earth's mean sea level pressure of 14.69 psi. It is so low that a "Fierce storm" as they put it would be something akin to a very light breeze messing up your hair. Due to the low air density sound would not travel like it does on Earth and you would have to stand next to someone and scream for them to hear you, providing you could survive the freezing cold temperature, poisonous atmosphere and lack of pressure.
NASA was consulted while making the film in order to get aspects of space and space travel, specifically in relation to Mars, with the most accuracy.
The suits in the film use a very complex and actual functioning lighting system.
The original cover page of the draft of The Martian was on-board of actual NASA ship Orion when it launched. On the cover was a drawing of Matt Damon's character on Mars saying, "I'm gonna science the shit out of this planet".
Filmmakers wanting to portray NASA in a film must obtain permission to do so. NASA must also be shown that the filmmakers are taking the subject matter seriously and are representing the truth. 50 pages of the script is NASA material.
About 20 sets were constructed over the filming of The Martian (2015), which isn't many in comparison to other films, but they were much more "technical". To put that in perspective to other Ridley Scott films, he used 70 on Exodus and over 100 on American Gangster (2007).
Shooting schedules were so specific that Kate Mara and Sebastian Stan would arrive on set before sunrise and leave after the sun had already set, they applied this "isolation" to help with their characters during filming.
Filming took around 70 days.
The film was at one point planned to be filmed in Australia, but due to disagreements with the Australian government those plans had to be abandoned.
They have a real potato farm on the studio lot with potatoes in all stages of growth so they can be used for filming.