Immediately following Matt Damon’s venture out into space in 2014’s Interstellar, he returns back to space, this time landing on Mars in the upcoming film The Martian. The newly released trailer for the Ridley Scott directed space film introduces us to Damon’s character Mark Watney, an astronaut that ends up being stranded on Mars after a storm impedes on a NASA space mission. Watney, after realizing thats the base camp on Mars is only equipped for 31 days of survival, concludes his only chance for survival is to “science the shit out of” what he has.
The trailer for The Martian shows us that Watney, in his efforts to survive, is finally able to reach his colleagues at NASA, people who initially assumed that he was dead. Their shocking realization that Watney survived leads NASA to deploy a rescue mission to save him.
However going to Mars, apparently, isn’t like going away to a nearby resort town for the weekend. With NASA’s estimated time of arrival being 4 years later, Watney must employ his creativity and knowledge if he is to have any shot at being alive when the rescue crew gets to him.
Though the trailer gives some glimpses of the inventions and ideas Watney thinks up, I am intrigued to see more of this aspect of the film as it will be interesting to see how inventive Watney becomes when he knows his survival is on the line. In a way, the problem in the film reminds me of the Tom Hanks’ film Cast Away, a movie from 2000. Mark Watney is the new Chuck Noland, the latter being the character played by Hanks. In Cast Away, Noland is stranded on a desolate island for years with only his ingenuity to save him. We can agree that being stranded on Mars is a different struggle however I’m expecting some thematic similarities between the two movies.
Like I wouldn’t be surprised if Watney started talking to a Martian volleyball.
In addition to the return of Matt Damon, the film also includes Jessica Chastain, another Interstellar alum. While it isn’t taking much of a risk by saying the film will mostly be centered on Damon, they have also included a few other notable names to the cast such as Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Donald Glover, Jeff Daniels, and – to my surprise – Kristen Wiig. I think even just some of these casting decisions will make the film one to watch. It is nice to see typically comedic actors such as Wiig, Daniels and Glover in substantially more dramatic roles. It is also nice to see risks in casting and I think if they work out it will definitely play in the film’s favor.
Just as Interstellar did, this film seems to be taking a scientific approach to a science fiction plot. From the trailer we see the struggles Damon’s character faces, including growing plants on a planet that is otherwise bare, using duct tape to seal his helmet, and trying to remain sane while he awaits his rescue. All this is also complemented by impressive landscapes and set design that greatly resembles that seen in both Interstellar and Gravity (which both won awards for visual effects).
The marketing team for the movie has gone a very unique route by releasing a “farewell” video on Youtube from the crew that is embarking in the ARES 3 mission, which will eventually meet the fate of the storm that leaves Damon stranded. The video is set up to look as if Mark Watney (Damon) is using a hand camera to film an educational tour of the mission ship, Hermes.
In the tour video we are introduced to crewmembers Rick Martinez (Michael Pena), Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie), and Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara). As the tour guide, Watney goes on to interview the crewmembers about different aspects of the mission and life on Hermes, including the food and the ship’s planned trajectory to Mars. By deciding to hype The Martian with a seemingly behind-the-scenes sneak into the character’s reality, I think there is an added dimension to the movie outside of the given suspense and action that is often associated with the sci-fi genre.
With the ability to create such detailed visuals with the help of continuously advancing CGI technology, I think this film has the potential to bring to life an inventive story that incorporates both the realities of science and the unknown world of space of travel.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Martian:
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, THE MARTIAN features a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.