The biggest disappointment with this film is the complete lack of Marvin the Martian and Bugs Bunny.
This is a film where Prometheus (Ridley Scott’s “prequel” to Alien) has obviously had a big influence visually. From the grand vistas of Mars through to the spacesuits, it’s hard not to see Prometheus throughout The Martian. And like Prometheus, Scott teams up with my former employers and colleagues at The Moving Picture Company (MPC) to furnish the film with wonderful visual effects.
I would best describe The Martian as Apollo 13 2: Electric Boogaloo. Perhaps one thing that the trailers for the film might put people off seeing The Martian is that it comes across as Castaway in space. But the story definitely owes much more to Apollo 13 than anything else.
Matt Damon is excellent as Mark Watney, a NASA astronaut, who is inadvertedly stranded on Mars after a cataclysmic storm threatens the crew of the newly establish NASA base. Once the crew contacts NASA back on Earth, they obviously assume that Watney is dead.
Oh no he isn’t!
I won’t spoil the rest of the film, but what follows is a combination of vlogging, disco music (yes, really) and a great deal of McGyverism. It’s very entertaining even if it’s almost entirely gobbledygook (with a bit of real science thrown in for good measure). The film comes close to presenting a utopian view of the space programme – but without the Russians, Europeans, Indians and so on. I mean, how did NASA get essentially unlimited funding? When did NASA and the Chinese Space Agency become so chummy (it’s a lovely thought, though)? Why are non-scientific personnel making all the big decisions? It’s all over the shop, and offers no explanation. This is very much all about NASA and it’s unapologetic for it.
I watched The Martian in 3D and it was a complete waste of time and money. I thoroughly dislike the format and would happily kill it in favour of higher resolution projection (4K, 8K, IMAX, etc). Now is the time to kill 3D in favour of Ultra HD. The Martian would look wonderful on Ultra HD Blu-Ray. 3D use in this film about as much good as a dead walrus on Mars. I didn’t see anything that made good use of the 3D format, and for this I had to pay more money as a consequence (the local Odeon in Guildford didn’t advertise the film as 3D, but they have damn comfortable seats).
If you loved Gravity and loved Apollo 13, I think you’ll love The Martian too. It’s a load of old fluff politically, but it’s damn good entertainment.
Next up: I’ll be reviewing the 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of Back to the Future (I was 9 at the time!), and the 10th Anniversary edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (flippin’ ‘eck, as it been that long since I worked on that?!).