Tue 29 Dec 2015
I expect something special when I go to a film by Ridley Scott . In his long and remarkable career Scott approached many genres from space horror to historical sagas, from road movies to gangster comedies and succeeded exceptionally well in many of these. The secret is of course professionalism, the talent to tell a story, and to build (sometimes) greater-than-life characters which are credible in extreme situations. He tried to do the same with ‘The Martian’ but in my opinion he did not succeed too much.
Maybe the problem lies in trying to build too much on the combination of two successful genres – the sole survivor story and the big space drama. The second genre was pretty successful in the previous two Academy Awards seasons (with ‘Gravity’ and ‘Interstellar’) and Scott and his producers may aim for a similar fate for ‘The Martian’ - the saga of an astronaut believed dead and left behind on Mars, to be rescued in an extreme action of inter-planetary dimension. We’ll see if he succeeds, but on my scale he rather failed.
The sign of such a film not really succeeding is when the day or the days after you remember more the technical aspects. This exactly happens to me with this film. Planting potatoes on Martian soil and sealing a space vehicle with adhesive tape has some fun of itself, but it dangerously competes with the human dimension of the story, with the fight of the lonely astronaut to overcome the elements and his own despair. Matt Damon is a fine action movies lead actor but he’s no Tom Hanks (not yet, at least) and his role here may not get him even an award nomination. This techno-survival story leans too much on the technology side.