ONE of the most pleasant surprises this year is discovering The Martian is a space comedy.
Playing down the sweaty palm tension one would expect from the set up, Ridley Scott’s film, based on the book of the same name, is a laugh riot.
We already had Sandra Bullock desperately fighting the odds to get home in Gravity so it is refreshing a similar story (man stranded in space) takes a different tack.
Botanist Mark Whatney (Damon) is left behind on Mars by his fellow crewmates when a vicious storm hits and he is believed dead.
With only a few months’ worth of food and four years until the next scheduled mission, he has to figure out a way to communicate with NASA, grow food in a place that does not support life and hope disaster does not strike again.
Meanwhile, NASA staff (played by Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor and others) try to figure out a way to bring him home.
Some may be disappointed at the lack of character development (admittedly lacking, we learn nothing about Whatney and how this ordeal affects him psychologically) but that is why this is a fun romp while also being a celebration of science.
The film never gets bogged down in the depressing drama of the dire situation; Whatney maintains his sense of humour as does his crew, who he shares an amusing rapport with and the people on Earth trying to make the impossible possible.
The Martian recognises the absurdness of the scenario and is a better film for it.
The Martian (M)
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas now.