The 9 Best Moments in Ridley Scott's The Martian

Friday, 02 October 2015 - 11:55AM
The Martian
Friday, 02 October 2015 - 11:55AM
The 9 Best Moments in Ridley Scott's The Martian
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Based on Andy Weir's excellent book by the same name, The Martian is a tale of survival against the odds, ingenuity, and potatoes. Played by Matt Damon (in a role that seemed like it was taylor made for him), protagonist Mark Watney is a NASA Astronaut carrying out a manned mission on Mars with his crew mates Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Rick Martinez (Michael Peña), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), Chris Beck  (Sebastian Stan), and Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie). When a violent storm whips right over their landing site, Commander Lewis is forced to order an emergency evacuation of the planet, but as the crew make their way to their launch vehicle, Watney is struck by debris and assumed dead by his fellow astronauts.

We could spend the next 1000 words waxing lyrical about how scientifically astute, funny, and full of heart this film is (which it is), but really, just doing that would seem like a disservice to how much fun we had watching The Martian. So instead, we're going to give you something of a highlights reel of our favorite moments from one of the best sci-fi movies this year.

The Sprawling Shots of Martian Landscapes

Mars is very much a supporting character in Andy Weir's book, and while it may not play quite as prominent a role in the movie, there were still a number of moments that left your mouth wide open with awe. Like so many sci-fi movies before it (Prometheus, Last Days on Mars, and Red Planet to name but a few), The Martian shot its Mars landscape scenes in Jordan's Wadi Rum desert, which with its naturally red sands is the perfect place to replicate our planetary neighbor. What Scott and his visual team do so well throughout the movie is to provide a sense of scale for Watney's plight. Thanks to a combination of panoramic shots and the satellite imagery seen from the perspective of NASA, the fact that Mark Watney is but one man on a huge hostile planet is never lost on you.

Matt Damon, Matt Damon, Matt Damon

Had this movie not been a faithful adaptation of Andy Weir's sci-fi novel, you would swear that the role of Mark Watney had been written solely for Matt Damon. Seriously, it's scary how perfect Damon is for this role. Damon delivers all the emotion, wit and charm that made Weir's Mark Watney such a brilliant protagonist, and just as you do in the book, you can't help but root for Damon's plucky, perennially optimistic botanist. It's no coincidence then, that just about all the best moments in this movie stem from Damon's performance.

Everything About The Hermes

Some of the shots from inside the Hermes were downright beautiful. Scott and his team have clearly done their homework and have attempted to create a long distance spacecraft that feels realistic. If there was any criticism, it would be that it seemed quite large, with huge rec rooms and gyms probably not being ideal for an economical journey to Mars. However, NASA seemed pretty pleased with the end result, and even commented on the fact that the movie accurately depicts the Hermes utilizing an Ion Engine.

The Treadmill Scene

Speaking of the Hermes. The Ares 3 crew's behemoth spacecraft also played host to my favorite scene in the entire film. When Vogel receives a strange file from Earth, he heads to Hermes's gym to seek out Johanssen's help in cracking the code. Johanssen is in the middle of a workout on a treadmill framed by the Hermes's giant, spinning gravitational ring. This immediately conjured up memories of a similar scene from Stanley Kubrick's  2001: A Space Odyssey, so much so that I'm almost certain this must have been a tribute to a director who Scott has often drawn upon for influence.

Watney's Cursing is Broadcast Around the Globe

One of Watney's few moments of selfishness came when he discovered that his fellow Ares 3 crew mates hadn't been told of his survival. Swearing in a number of languages, Watney's response to Vincent Kapoor was broadcast around the world, but when Kapoor told him as much, Watney continued his foul-mouthed tirade. If that's as selfish as this man ever got after being stranded on an alien planet with nothing but potatoes, he's a better man than I.

'That' Line

It's the line that had first made us fall in love with Mark Watney, but despite hearing it over and over again in the trailers, witnessing Watney "Science the shit out of this" was every bit as good on the big screen.

Astronaut Banter

The majority of the film's comedy moments were delivered by the wry humor of Mark Watney, but thankfully Scott found time to give Michael Peña's Rick Martinez a chance to deliver some laughs. In a scene in which the Hermes crew are communicating with Watney, Pena delivers some brilliant astronaut banter that created a touching and hilarious moment.
Opening quote
"Sorry we left you on Mars, but we don't really like you. It's much roomier on the Hermes now....We've been sharing responsibility for your work, but it's only botany so it's not real science."
Closing quote

Create Water —> Celebrate —> Explosion

Watney's celebration at having created water lasted only a fraction of a second before he got blown across the room by his makeshift contraption, and it was absolutely perfect. In a piece of slapstick comedy timing that even Buster Keaton would be proud of, Watney's shrill cheer is cut short by what was, thankfully, a non-lethal explosion. While there were a number of genuine laugh-out-loud moments in the movie, this particular scene had sides splitting the most.

The End Credits Soundtrack

As the movie drew to a close, Gloria Gaynor's sweet tones blasted out with her 70's classic 'I Will Survive'. It was a request of Andy Weir's to put that track into the end credits, and we're glad Mr. Scott listened to him, especially seeing as it gives one of our favorite internet videos a whole new meaning.

Honorable Mentions:

- Kristen Wiig portrays the snarky PR chief, Annie Montrose, perfectly.
- Man is Chiwetel Ejiofor talented. His look of amazement alone is worth an Oscar nomination.
- Jessica Chastain continues to show that she's one of the best in the business, bringing authority and emotion to what was a limited role. 
- Those spacesuits. As if being an astronaut wasn't cool enough, you then get to wear those gorgeous spacesuits!

The Martian was not a perfect movie, and there were moments that rankled (we'll get to those later today), but it's greatest success should be in getting people excited for space travel and science. Geeks have been cool for a while now, but The Martian just made them even cooler.
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The Martian
The 9 Best Moments in Ridley Scott's The Martian