The synopsis for The Martian is that a group of astronaut explorers are doing their exploration on Mars. There is a big sandstorm (no water on Mars when this film and the book that it is based on, The Martian by Andy Weir, were made), also because of the lack of air pressure on Mars, there are really no big sandstorms just faint breeze, but we have got to get this story rolling. The explorers have to get back to their space ship on their shuttle thing that is more like the lunar lander than a Star Trek shuttle. One of the astronauts, Matt Damon as Mark Watley, gets bonked on the head by the equipment and falls in the red dust (Bad Day at Red Sand, I couldn't resist) and is left behind by the departing astronauts.
Alone on Mars! It's like Home Alone! It really is.
Mark has to battle all the hostile elements of Mars and his equipment to survive. There are no burglars on Mars, thank goodness, so Mark does not have to battle them. Mark has some cool equipment that he modifies for his needs and he has taken up growing potatoes so that he can play Mr. Potato Head and have some company and fun while he runs the World of Mars all by himself.
But people get lonely and so does Mark. He wants people to come back and get him. People feel guilty, and the other explorers on their way home and the folks at NASA want to come back and get him, but How? And that there is your movie.
Jessica Chastain plays the commander of the explorers who left Mark behind, but she gets to redeem herself by rescuing him. Another strong female gets the job done for director Scott Ridley who introduced us to the Magnificent Ripley in Alien who also got the job done, over and over again.
Andy Weir originally wrote and published his book, The Martian, on his website and then made it into an eBook that he sold on Amazon for $.99. I see that the price for the book is now $8.99. Ah! the price of popularity!
Mars in this movie looks like Monument Valley in Arizonia where John Ford made his many Westerns.
But the exteriors for Mars were filmed in Wadi Rum, Jordan. A bit of the Wild West in the Middle East.
The movie is well made, acted, directed, designed, and scripted. It is a boy's adventure film, but a beautifully made boy's adventure film is perfectly acceptable as an Academy nomination.
I just wonder why Ridley Scott, who is one of my favorite directors because he is a master of film technique and he can also relate to and handle his actors well and he makes movies with strong female characters and he knows a good script when he reads one, was not nominated for Best Director for this film. He came in under budget for Ares' Sake!
Did the academy just think, it is another boy's adventure film, very well done, but come on, let's be serious and nominate directors who are Serious! Ridley Scott has been making good and great films for years. He is one of our Masters. I am beginning to think that he will fall into the category that Alfred Hitchcock fell into in Hollywood. Every one acknowledged Hitchcock's mastery of film and its technique---that's why he was in Hollywood---they want the best to work for and with them. But he never got his Acknowledgement Academy Director Award. The academy gave directing awards to actors who directed a film or two, but not Hitch. Why? Was it because Hitch was always doing those MacGuffin thrillers and mystery movies that are not really Serious movies? Was it because Hitch went into television when it really wasn't cool? (Ridley is doing that these days too.)
WTF Hollywood? Give the Master his Due. Go look at his film bibliography. This man deserves his Acknowledgement Oscar. Don't Hitch Ridley.
I first came across the mastery of Ridley Scott with that TV commercial for Chanel:
My first thought was "What the H Double LL? Are the Dada-ists taking over TV? Cool!
Those Dada-ists were awesome.