Surely, the biggest world premiere of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival was Ridley Scott‘s sci-fi adventure The Martian. The film stars Matt Damon (Elysium) as astronaut Mark Watney, who is presumed dead following a heavy storm while on a manned mission to Mars. The film chronicles Mark’s ultimate survival story trying to find a way with a help of a team at NASA millions of miles away. With Scott returning once again to the sci-fi genre (Blade Runner, Alien and it’s recently divided prequel Prometheus), The Martian has been one of the more eagerly anticipated films of the year. Early reaction seems promising, to boot.
New York Post critic Lou Lumenick said the film was “The best thing that either Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott have done in years,” while Variety‘s Peter Debruge said, “The Martian should do far more than just make Fox a ton of money; it could conceivably rekindle interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of future astronauts.” Damon, in particular, has received the lion’s share of The Martian‘s early praise- important due to the fact that stretches of the film showcase the Oscar winner acting solo (a la Sandra Bullock in Gravity). The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy wrote, “Damon provides comfortable company during the long stretches when he’s onscreen alone, and the actor’s physicality makes Mark’s capability entirely credible.”
While Damon may be front and center, there’s a strong supporting cast holding down the fort back on Earth in the film. The impressive ensemble includes Jessica Chastain (Interstellar), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Z for Zachariah), Kristen Wiig (Welcome to Me), Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Sean Bean (Pixels), Kate Mara (Fantastic Four), Jeff Daniels (Steve Jobs), Donald Glover (Magic Mike XXL) and Michael Peña (Ant-Man). The Cabin in the Woods director and former Lost producer Drew Goddard wrote the screenplay, adapted from Andy Weir’s best-selling novel.
It will be curious to see if the solid early reaction for The Martian call translate into an awards run for the film. Science fiction films don’t tend to click with AMPAS, however Alfonso Cuarón’s blockbuster Gravity won seven Academy Awards just two years ago, including one for Cuarón’s direction. However, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, released last year, failed to latch onto awards love despite winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects (curiously, both Chastain and Damon were featured in Interstellar). Scott has been nominated for three Oscar nominations throughout this career- for Thelma and Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.
Audiences will able to find out if The Martian delivers the goods when it hits theaters on October 2nd.