Saturday, 3 October 2015


A scientific spectacular that gets too much right to be truly wrong. Ridley Scott is a filmmaker as gifted with brilliance as his films are often blighted with bloat - The Martian is so many different films in one that it's hard not to enjoy at least some of it, even if it's hard to recommend all of it. It's a popcorn movie, or it is until your popcorn runs out, whereupon you wish they'd found a little more excess weight to jettison to make the journey that bit smoother. A gargantuan ensemble of A-listers occupies two planets and one spaceship in between them, travelling through comedy, suspense and corporate drama, the whole film approaching each individual moment, as well as the entire enterprise, with a gusto that makes this mish-mash surprisingly affable. Early scenes establish the kind of speedy pace that suggests less a Mad Max style full-throttle thriller, more a film that's bitten off way more than it can chew. Kudos to The Martian - it makes it through the whole meal, though the gristly bits that appear as the film stumbles its way toward some sort of climax still can't be rescued by Pietro Scalia's expeditious edit job. Drew Goddard's dialogue does good work making the science palatable for the muggles among us, but does better work when dealing in quick comic quips; Goddard's ear isn't fine enough to pick up on a large number (everything in The Martian is large, though) of clangers in his own script, however. An artless piece of work made with an immense amount of artistry, The Martian at least boasts an excellent climactic sequence to save it from the sag that has otherwise set up shop by this point. It's winning details like this that do save The Martian - it's fun, both in spite of and because of itself.