At First Glance: “The Martian”

Science fiction films are a tricky type of film to make. There’s a lot of different ways to tell a science fiction film, but sadly most have been done to death. There’s also so many that are just done for the sake of entertainment, which is fine, but after awhile, even that grows a bit dull and lifeless. Where’s an intelligent AND entertaining science fiction film when you need one?

The upcoming 20th Century Fox film “The Martian”, looks exciting, suspenseful, fun, and smart just like a good sci-fi film should.

This sci-fi drama stars Matt Damon (“Interstellar”, “The Monuments Men”), Jessica Chastain (upcominng film “Crimson Peak”, “A Most Violent Year”), Kristen Wiig (“Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”, “The Spoils Before Dying”), Jeff Daniels (upcoming “Steve Jobs”, “The Newsroom”), Michael Pena (upcoming “Hell and Back”, “Ant-Man”), Kate Mara (upcoming films “Man Down”, “Captive”), Sean Bean (“Legends”, “Pixels”), Sebastian Stan (upcoming “The Bronze”, “Ricki and the Flash”), Donald Glover (“Magic Mike XXL”, “The Lazarus Effect”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (upcoming films “Z for Zachariah”, “Secrets in Their Eyes”), and Aksel Hennie (“Last Knights”, “Hercules (2014)”).

The film is directed by Ridley Scott (“Exodus: Gods and Kings”, “The Counselor”) and written by Drew Goddard (“Daredevil (2015 TV series)”, “World War Z”). It is based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir!

The film is set to open in theaters on Oct. 2, 2015. The film is also scheduled to premier at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sept. 11, 2015.

Since I finished reading “The Martian” yesterday, I figured now was definitely a good time as any to write about the upcoming film’s trailer(s). It’s been ages since I saw the teaser trailer, and the next thing I knew the full length one was out. What?! I put it off too long. So, instead of just writing about one, I’m going to speak on both. This should be easy enough as a lot of the footage between the two is the same, which isn’t surprising. All it means is that I’m even more excited for this film than I was before.

So, this is awkward. I thought I was ready to talk about this film and it turns out, I’m not. What to say? What to say??

The scope of this whole film looks massive. In each trailer, plus the TV spot I’ve seen, really captures every aspect of the book. I don’t think worrying about this being a faithful adaptation will be needed.

One big thing I’m excited to see is how Goddard managed to translate all the technical and scientific aspects into something technical and scientific, but in a fun visual way. When I started the book I don’t think I had any concerns about the technical stuff that was going to be a major part of the story. I don’t think I’d been warned either. The only way I knew was a quote from a review that said you never felt left behind by the science or confused, that it was easy to get through. I just realized I’ve now spoken more on the book than I thought I would. Anyway, Weir had done an excellent job at explaining why Mark Watney did what he did, why it was important and whatnot, that it made me wonder if Goddard could do the same? For a film, with a lot of technical stuff already needing attention, how do you accommodate an even bigger need? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The sets, the costumes, all of it look incredibly authentic, for starters, and they look amazing in general for a sci-fi film directed by Scott. I don’t know if the studio was ever considering someone else for this job, and if they were, I’m glad they went with Scott. Sure his track record of late hasn’t been that stellar, but if there’s one genre he knows, it’s sci-fi. That alone has me incredibly optimistic.

I’m also incredibly optimistic and excited about the cast. Some of the cast will be new to us, which is great, but means I need a little more optimism when it comes to the characters they’ll be playing. For instance, Mackenzie Davis (“Halt and Catch Fire”, “That Awkward Moment”) (who?) plays Mindy Park, and in the novel, she’s in charge of some pretty important work. She pops up for long stretches, but never a significant amount. That in mind, her character is one you like because she’s dedicated and above all, sarcastic. Her sense of humor is also in good form, as is every characters that has a sense of humor. That’s another thing I hope Goddard worked on. In a lot of way, it’s what defines Watney and so many others. Without this, audiences (who read the book too) won’t recognize these characters at all. That would be a big disappointment. Back to Davis. She’s relatively new. I doubt I’m the only one that knows nothing about her. But, again, I’m optimistic.

One thing I didn’t think about until I got to it in the book, and subsequently saw a little bit ago when I was watching the trailers, is how emotional this film will be. I think what’s really going to surprise us is the emotional human elements of it all. Even if (and I saw this the moment I started reading) this story’s more or less predictable, sorry to say it, there’s a lot that just gets thrown at you. Nothing terribly shocking, like an M. Night Shyamalan film used to be, but one with surprises that are really organic and just feed the emotional rollercoaster audiences will no doubt be on. A man gets left on a Mars during a storm, that’s a pretty intense way to begin. For me, and many others, I’m just hoping I get lost in the beauty and excitement that this film is trying to offer me. If that can happen, I’ll call it a win. That’s essentially what it will be. I may know what’s going to happen, but if I can get lost enough, I’ll be just as surprised as anyone else.

Science fiction doesn’t just have to have be about space battles, aliens, robots or whatever else the hell you can think of. Those elements, a lot of the time, are fun, lots of fun. Wouldn’t have many of the films we do without them. However, sometimes a sci-fi film just needs to be something different than what we’ve come to expect. It also shows that there are people capable of being creative and making a fun sci-fi film, even when there’s a lot more science being thrown out than we’re used to. Does make for a nice change.

Teaser Trailer:

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