Let’s get this out of the way, I love Ridley Scott and most of the films he has made, so it’s a safe bet that I was going to really like The Martian at the very least; but I loved the movie.
Now, I know everyone on the Internet is in a giant warm bubble as the film apparently hand wrote a love letter to science using the finest words in the English language. And I do give the film a lot of credit for being what I thought was very accurate account of a man trapped on Mars, but that isn’t what kept me engaged and to sum up the film as a giant love letter to science would sell it short.
What keep me going and what made the film so good is the fact that it was made up of characters whose motivations we understand and are trying to get a job done. These people are just that, people. The head of NASA could have easily been the biggest asshole in the film and if this movie wasn’t adapted by anyone else other than Drew Goddard, he probably would have been. The Martian is a rare film where the makers of it and the studio who produced it were on the same page. No one sat there and said, “Hey, we need to dumb this down for audiences.” and if they did they were obviously, and thankfully, ignored.
This movie does something that no other film has done in a long time, and that’s to treat the audience like an adult rather than a teenager. We don’t get the authoritative dickhole head of NASA, we don’t have a stupid mutiny against the mutiny petty plot on the Hermes, or a potential love triangle between the mission commander and Watney and her S.O. on Earth. We are along for the ride here. We don’t get twists out of no where because of someone cock blocking the plot because reasons. The main enemy in this film are the laws that govern our lives, specifically gravity, thermodynamics, physics, and the uncaring vastness of space.
Are there any problems with the film? I think the extreme use of tarps might be a bit exaggerated, but again, it is plausible.
The one thing that stood out to me in the film was the lack of repeating information, which was amazing to witness. In my own writing, I do not have a scene where the plan is explained to the reader and then repeated again to the character who isn’t in scene, and they do that in this movie multiple times. Films have done this in the past, but for some reason recent films decided to pad their times with scene after scene of unnecessary information exchanges.
To sum up, The Martian is a great movie because it treats us with the respect that if we have any questions we can just go out and read. It doesn’t hand hold and it doesn’t over explain, it tells a human story that we all can connect with and understand.
Lastly, spoiler alert, Sean Bean’s character’s career does not survive to the end of the film.