The Martian

Emma Castle
28th Sep 2015

The Martian, the latest film from Ridley Scott, has all the hallmarks of an Oscar winner.

Matt Damon’s performance as astronaut Mark Watney is possibly the strongest of his stellar career. Not only is he hilarious and charming, he is utterly believable as he navigates the emotional terrain of being left alone on Mars; the core premise of the film.

Beyond Damon’s performance, this film is played with a deft hand on all levels. The score is subtle, the writing is intelligent and the casting is fresh. Highlights include the fact that there are female characters in key lead roles playing super nerds, and while yes, they are hot, they are also portrayed as being strong, capable and devastatingly bright.

There’s also the casting of African-American and Asian actors in pivotal roles playing scientists who help save the day. For once, it’s not an all-white cast of males and that alone is enough to endear it to everyone who is not a Caucasian bloke.

The Martian follows the crew of Ares 4 who are on a Mars research mission and get caught in a severe storm. They have to evacuate the red planet hastily and, during the chaos of the exit, one of the astronauts gets blown away and the ‘bio-computer’ in his suit is punctured so that his fellow crew members believe that he is dead.

The story crosses between the Ares 4 crew on their return journey, the stranded astronaut who has to "science the shit out of" his predicament, and the top brass back at NASA who have to decide how to save him.

What is so loveable about this film is the way all of the characters are portrayed. While it’s not common to encounter astronauts in everyday life, this is what you imagine they would be like; brave, patient, loyal and funny. There are no super villains, no wailing girls wearing floral dresses, no overblown heroics; just a bunch of smart people solving complex problems in order to save a man’s life and progress humankind’s understanding of the universe.

The Martian opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday October 1.