The Martian Footage Wows CinemaCon

Whilst films like “Gravity” and “Interstellar” have seen a welcome return of proper science fiction to the cinema, both have also had a strong dose of emotional sentimentality to try and get people not normally into this often cold genre onboard.

From George Clooney’s home-spun tales and Sandra Bullock’s life affirmation, to Matthew McConaughey’s corn-fed pining for his daughter and the infamous ‘library in space’ third act, both films struggled to be as authentic as possible until it didn’t suit the story. This has understandably led to criticisms from both reviewers and the scientific community who believe the New Age pseudo-science convention undermined the films in order to appeal to the ‘cheap seats’.

As such, those people are seeking something more objective, serious and credible. It sounds like Ridley Scott, a filmmaker famous for not dealing in sentimentality, may have delivered that with his upcoming sci-fi flick “The Martian”. The first footage from the film, based on the novel by Andy Weir, screened at CinemaCon in Las Vegas today and reportedly wowed the crowd.

The film deals with Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded alone on Mars after the rest of the crew presume he’s dead and depart. Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels also star. io9 has a review and here’s an excerpt:

“Unlike Interstellar, no one is crying the whole goddamn time. Seriously, it looks amazing… This is the gritty, space survivalist film we have been waiting for. No woo-science, no blubbering, no imaginary conversations with imaginary George Clooney – what I saw was a man abandoned on a planet that he is going to fix with science.

[Damon] has to figure out how to survive for three years on this planet, which is when the next planed mission is set to return to Mars… The part that put me firmly in the ‘I must see this’ camp for The Martian was after Matt Damon (who plays abandoned Astronaut Mark Watney) realizes that he only has enough food and oxygen for 30 days and says, ‘I’m going to have to science the s–t out of this.’

This is where things get pretty wonderfully MacGyver-esque. Damon realizes he has no way to contact NASA, no food, and no hope for a rescue mission, but tries anyway. He posts a sign that reads ‘Are you receiving me?’ and eventually NASA find him. I’m not sure how swiftly NASA alerts the returning Ares 3 crew, but once they find out, they’re in.

There’s a brief montage of all sorts of science and space hacks Damon has to perform to keep himself alive (like growing food, etc). At one winning moment (not sure what) he yells out in jubilation ‘In your face, Neil Armstrong!’ It’s great. Obviously, things get more dicey and you see Damon start to unravel, but you can’t help but cheer him on, specifically when he starts duct-taping his cracked space helmet. This is the strap-your-moon-boots-on scifi feature we’ve all been waiting for.”

For the full review with plenty more details, click here.