‘The Martian’ isn’t a Ridley Scott film. It’s might have his name at the front but this isn’t him or at least it’s not the Ridley we knew. This is a very different Ridley Scott.
From ‘The Duellists’ forward Ridley Scott has gone on to to make his name with a catalogue of achingly detailed worlds each drenched in shadows and rain, neon light and melodrama, and even when it came to his later historical epics (‘Gladiator’ and ‘Exodus’) Ridley has rarely strayed from the operatic. But this time he has. This time, Ridley is 140 million miles away from his usual brooding self / lingering camera.
... melodrama and self reflection has been replaced for a can-do attitude...
In ‘The Martian’, melodrama and self reflection has been replaced for a can-do attitude when tragedy strikes on a mission to Mars when one of its crew, Mark Watney (ably played by Matt Damon) is left behind. Beautifully staged with amazing effects, ‘The Martian’ is a film solidly framed in positivity and crackles along at a brisk pace in comparison to Duncan Jones “Moon’ where isolation and self-reflection are the very kernels of its fantastic story line.
So let me say this quickly and cover the point. The Martin is great entertainment and has an arresting series of twists and turns that will genuinely keep you glued to the screen. It’s not as underwritten as ‘Gravity’ but then again it’s not as detailed at ‘Apollo 13’ nor as existential as ‘Interstellar’ but then again… it’s not classic Ridley either – there’s no brooding melancholia here. Maybe the master will show his hand in the new Bladerunner prequel – albeit from the producer’s chair? -Let’s see.
I’ve grown up with Ridley Scott movies and from all the interviews and documentaries I’ve seen he comes across as a very no-nonsense, accept-no substitute kind of guy and this shows in all his films. It’s going to be interesting to see where he goes next.
The Martian is definitely a high-concept, event-led piece of film making and well worthy of a trip to the cinema while you can. I’ll put it to you this way, Ridley Scott likes to paint on a big canvas and so that’s where you should see it.