Once upon a time, Ridley Scott was one of the best and most beloved filmmakers in Hollywood. The Blade Runner and Alien director has seen a huge slump in later years though, from the bland Robin Hood to the much derided The Counsellor to the divisive Exodus: Gods and Kings and of course the movie that launched a thousand “just step left” memes, Prometheus. But if the buzz coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival is to be believed, Scott didn’t just make like Stella and get his groove back, but he’s also just given us one of the best films of 2015 in The Martian.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Andy Weir, The Martian sees Matt Damon as an astronaut that is part of a manned mission to Mars who accidentally gets left behind on the surface after a storm forces the rest of his team to abandon the mission thinking him dead. Forced to “science the shit” out of his predicament, Damon’s astronaut has to find a way to survive the hostile environment and try to contact NASA so that they can effect his rescue. It’s a potent scenario for the flick and the entertaining trailers certainly gave us lots of hope that Damon and Scott had managed to pull this off, but then again the same could have been said for Prometheus.
Luckily, it seems that Scott has most definitely learned to “step left” when it comes to critics, as the incredible praise for the film coming from from those who have seen the film appears to magnanimous: After 19 reviews, The Martian is currently sitting on 95% on Rotten Tomatoes! Here’s a sample of what those reviews are saying as well as some tweets (via EW) from folks who got to see it this weekend past.
“It’s only when the credits rolled on The Martian after its Toronto International Film Festival debut that I remembered Drew Goddard wrote the script. And then I thought to myself, Oh, right, this all makes sense now. Goddard, who co-wrote and directed the infinitely self-aware The Cabin in the Woods, brings a self-aware, lighthearted approach to The Martian … which maybe shouldn’t be too surprising, but then you remember that this is a movie about a man hopelessly stranded on a desolate planet, directed by Ridley Scott. At no point did I expect The Martian to be “fun,” but it’s surprisingly (and sort of weirdly) just that.”
“An unpretentious popcorn classic that builds to a white-knuckle climax, the nerd-driven space opera “The Martian’’ is the best thing that either Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott have done in years.”
“If you are worried about heading to space again with Ridley Scott after the grim, muddled Prometheus, fear not. His new space yarn, The Martian, based on the science-heavy novel by Andy Weir, is a pure delight, a tense survival tale leavened by an abundance of geeky wit and an array of fine actors at their snappy best. It’s the first Ridley Scott picture in a long time that feels energized by its scope and ambition rather than buried under it.”
“At its most basic, “The Martian” serves as an epic homage to the nerd — a deferential widescreen celebration of human intelligence in a genre that so often hinges on speed, braun or sheer midi-chlorian levels (thanks for nothing, George Lucas).”
“Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” is a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster that values intelligence, science and teamwork over superpowers and strength. Anchored greatly by Matt Damon’s best performance in years and gilded by the kind of precise technical elements that a veteran director like Scott brings to a multi-million dollar production, “The Martian” is remarkably crowd-pleasing. It’s difficult to imagine anyone actively disliking it, and I expect when it descends from its Toronto World Premiere today to the rest of the world that they will embrace it.
Like “Apollo 13,” this is a film that can be described as crowd-pleasing without coming off as diminutive or insulting. It’s a film designed to transport you to an unimaginable place that somehow stays relatable and human enough that we can see ourselves within it. That’s what we want from a great blockbuster—something both larger than us but not so distant that we can’t connect. “The Martian” is a great blockbuster.”
“Is it this year’s Gravity? Not quite, but then it never tries to be, despite sharing some of its narrative thrust and themes. More robust in story, less dazzling/ostentatious (delete as applicable) in its effects and camerawork, it does share, however, in being a brainy blockbuster engineered to soar at multiplexes and land with the Academy.”
Matt Damon is kinda perfect for THE MARTIAN: We feel his solitude and horror without the movie being bleak. Strangely fun movie. #TIFF15
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) September 11, 2015
THE MARTIAN: They screenwrote the shit out of that. Faithful to the book, with added bonus of Matt Damon landing every joke. #TIFF15
— Matt Patches (@misterpatches) September 11, 2015
THE MARTIAN is a blast. Feels like a throwback to 90s space jams like Apollo 13 & Armageddon (in a good way). Gonna be big hit. #TIFF15
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) September 11, 2015
THE MARTIAN: A sometimes funny and sometimes thrilling space adventure about nerds and the power of science. Loved it. — Alison Willmore (@alisonwillmore) September 11, 2015
Loved THE MARTIAN. Going to be a big hit for Fox and Ridley Scott. Great script and performances. Worth seeing in 3D.
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) September 11, 2015
And I think this final tweet from film critic Jordan Hoffman probably summed all of that up the best:
The Martian releases locally on 2 October. Check out the latest TV spot in the mean time until then.
Last Updated: September 14, 2015