First of all, let’s get clear on the premise. The plot is all about survival and not metaphysics. So an Interstellar is out of the context. Also, the romance and the regular silly stuff has been kept out for the greater good. What remains is only the focus on the plot and its presentation. Ridley Scott returns to the mainstream entertainment with a plot not very different to what we have already seen in Gravity. But only at least this time around, NASA came forward to rescue its astronaut. The reason could be that the production team and NASA worked closely for the movie. The other reason could be that it’s an adaptation of the novel, The Martian, written by Andy Weir. Well, both are correct and shouldn’t be separated.
Matt Damon plays the role of the Martian (Mark Watney) who was left behind, being assumed dead, on the red planet caused by a dust storm. The science behind it is approximately correct as the Martian atmospheric pressure is considerably low when compared to the Earth and thus usually generates intense storms. However, the only fact check would be its damaging effects. In the movie, it was shown that the actor got hit by his own satellite antenna. I guess, so far so good. The problem starts to creep in when our Martian starts walking on the red planet. The effect of Martian gravity was conveniently ignored. I guess an acceleration of a mere three meter per second square wasn’t really a matter of concern.
For survival, Mr. Watney then used his own farming technique to grow potatoes. Martian soil is actually fertile enough for farming due to the presence of the nitrogen traces but then he thought to increase its fertility more. He created a fertilizer using the human faeces. Although the movie never made it clear if he made a good compost first or just mixed and put it into the soil. Again, for irrigation he combined the much needed hydrogen from the rocket fuel and oxygen from the oxygen generation system installed in the habitat to create droplets of water. And I have no major complaints regarding both the techniques.
However, the background score by Harry Gregson-Williams was boring and the direction by Ridley Scott was a let down. The thrill of a space adventure was completely missing from the screen. I do not know if that was deliberate. The only good thing about the film-making was its dialogue. I guess the lighter moments were shown to give the actual feel of the life around space travel. The humor is not that bad either for the runtime of 142 minutes. But the casting was odd. Though Matt Damon was easily the best choice for the lead role. Amusingly, Ridley Scott portrayed Chiwetelu Ejiofor as an Indian for the role of Vincent Kapoor. Frankly, I do not know the actual reason behind it but it might be possible that Anil Kapoor was a little short on his dates.