MOVIES: Lost in space – The Martian with Matt Damon

Is The Martian a NASA PR stunt?

Well apparently it’s not, but for the brainiacs at the US space agency, the film could not have been released at a better time with attention already on the Red Planet after NASA revealed recently that it had found evidence of liquid water on Mars.

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The Martian is the big screen and ambitious adaptation of the best-selling fiction novel of the same name by Andy Weir. It tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) left stranded on Mars after a violent storm seemingly impaled him and swept him away.

Director Ridley Scott describes the sci-fi as the ultimate survival story, adding that: “Watney is placed under unimaginable duress and isolation, and the movie is about how he responds”. He is stranded on a planet, millions of miles away from home and rescue is at least four years away, if it ever comes at all.

So how do you recreate that sense of utter isolation and hopelessness?

One way that Scott engendered this was by ensuring that he and Damon shot the vast majority of the movie on their own. It was a lonely gig but it instilled that element of inaccessibility that is vital to the story. Matt Damon took a page from the character of Watney’s playbook by finding humour in the dull setting through jokes and a positive attitude.

“I loved the humour, not only from Watney, but from the characters as well. The comedic tone is never glib and it complements the intense drama of the situation, which is not often something associated with the sci-fi genre,” said the 44-year-old actor.

Credit of course should go to Weir for creating a palatable sci-fi story not lacking in heart and emotion. And anyone who has read the book knows that the fact it is an out-of-this-world story does not prevent audiences from relating to the characters and their extreme travails.

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“This movie is essentially three separate but connected storylines. Watson is a Robinson Crusoe figure. I really like the character and admire the way the story celebrates the courage and ingenuity of these astronauts. It’s a love letter to science,” Damon said.

In cinemas across Dubai from 8th October.

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