TIFF Review: ‘The Martian’ is the Best Ridley Scott Movie in Years

Anyone following this website would know that ‘The Martian’ was our most anticipated movie among the films premiering at Toronto International Film Festival this year.  And we are glad to report that in spite of our high expectations, ‘The Martian’ managed to more than impress us.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen two extraordinary space films in the form of ‘Gravity’ and ‘Interstellar’, and while ‘The Martian’ may not match the technical brilliance of ‘Gravity’ or the emotional pay-off of ‘Interstellar’, it combines humor and science in a way that is wholesomely enjoyable. Based on the novel of the same name, ‘The Martian’ also feels more relevant in today’s times, considering all the Mars-based mission NASA and space research organizations in other countries are carrying out. With all the build-up around Mars, it seems the day is not far when we will send humans of the red planet.

Directed by Ridley Scott — who lately has been awfully out of form — ‘The Martian’ is a tightly packed film with a running time of just over 2 hours. Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, who is one of the lowest members of a crew on Mars, and is accidentally left behind when they are forced to abort their mission due to a vicious storm that lashes the entire planet. The crew leaves, believing him dead, but he is very much alive. Realizing his situation, he decides to devise ways to survive on Mars, and resourcefully is successful in growing food, and eventually finding a way to communicate with NASA back on earth.

As rest of the crew speeds home they come to learn their partner is alive. They must make a decision about going back to get him, an act of mutiny because NASA has stated it is too risky to send them back for one man. The drama of the film becomes: will they be able to get to him and then make it back to earth? And will Watney (Damon) be able to do everything he needs to do to survive on the planet ?

Right from the first to the final reels, I loved this movie, and the main reason being the wonderful performance of Matt Damon who infuses his character with humor and warmth, making the best of a terrible situation. With sheer charisma Damon dominates the film with a fine performance that in any other year might land him in the Oscar race — it is simply too crowded a field this year. However, he could find himself in a major blockbuster. Yes, ‘The Martian’ is sure to make a big splash at the box-office, especially considering it is a film that can be enjoyed by both the geeks and the popcorn-munching general audience.

The supporting cast which includes the likes of Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels are all great too, but make no mistake; this is Matt Damon’s show all the way. And those who have been disappointed with Ridley Scott and the films he has made over past few years, will certainly be relieved to see the master return to form, because ‘The Martian’ without a shred of doubt is the best Ridley Scott movie in years.