With The Martian
, director Ridley Scott has finally found a story worthy of his filmmaking talent. Matt Damon stars as Mark Watney, Mars’s most optimistic botanist, who is abandoned on the planet by his fellow astronauts, believing him dead. Isolated, wounded, rapidly depleting his supplies, and unable to contact Earth, Watney is faced with an impossible task: he has to MacGyver together a plan for survival on a planet with no food or oxygen–all in a way that doesn’t feel hopelessly contrived. And boy, does he rise to the occasion! Damon’s superb performance and Scott’s expert handling of the subject material make The Martian
not just one of the best films of 2015, but the most fun movie-going experience I’ve had all year.
God, I wanted this movie to be amazing. Ever since the first teaser trailer I was ready for a masterpiece. It was everything I ever wanted: Ridley Scott directing, amazing cinematography, the same intense aesthetic as Alien, and even an amazing cast featuring Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba. This is no doubt a movie after my heart. It was as if Ridley Scott had, after all these years, finally read all my fan letters and decided to make that movie I’ve always wanted. But, unfortunately this was but a dream and I eventually woke up to find Prometheus, an excellent but very flawed film.
The majority of Prometheus’ flaws can be attributed to its unfortunately lackluster script. For every interesting idea presented here there’s a piece of painfully stilted dialogue or blatant exposition. Take for instance a moment when Idris Elba literally explains what’s going on to the audience. This wasn’t knowledge that was present anywhere in the film, it was just Elba dictating information straight to the audience. You’d think that a movie that starts as slowly and deliberately as this one wouldn’t spoon feed its audience so unabashedly. And to make matters worse there are obviously a lot of interesting things going on here, however they’re never truly explored and we’re left wondering what this film could have been. That said, this script isn’t completely unsalvageable. There are many instances of brilliance here like the interesting questions asked or the fascinating world the writers create. I mean look no further than the amazing technology and well-defined mythology that fills every scene. Unfortunately these exceptions can’t save the script from its many imperfections, but luckily enough movies aren’t books, and there’s more to Prometheus than just an unrealized script.
If we were to disregard the script entirely, this movie would be perfect. The execution here is flawless. There’s no doubt that Ridley Scott is on his A game. He’s a master of his craft, and with Prometheus he gives us some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in years. Scott captures everything perfectly from the epic scale of the enormous set pieces all the way down to the brooding horror of this ultimately doomed mission. Even the way he directs his actors is superb. Just look no further than Michael Fassbender’s performance as David. This is a role that has been done to death, hell Scott even had a similar android character in his previous work Alien, yet because of Fassbender’s great finesse he’s able to make a character we’ve seen before completely new and fascinating. Each and every one of these elements comes together to weave a perfect and complete vision. From the dread filled tone to the unnerving score, every moment of the film is engaging and guarantees that, despite the slow pace, every minute of this film’s runtime is riveting.
But alas, a film is a creature made of many different parts and pieces, the script being a vital one, and I cannot say with a good conscience that this film ever over comes that one fatal flaw. That being said it isn’t completely destroyed by it either. So we’re left here in essence with a masterpiece painted in shit. Scott can try his hardest to make something beautiful out of it, and he does, but no matter what he’s still painting with shit. I can only hope that for the sequels he’s given some actual goddamn paint.
Rating: 4 out of 5
PS: The poster is courtesy of the awesome midnight marauder.