JoBlo.com Gets an Early Glimpse at Ridley Scott's The Martian!
Last year, we had the opportunity to visit the set of Ridley Scott’s latest, THE MARTIAN. The story of an astronaut who is thought to be dead by his crew, is left to fend for himself on Mars. It is a fascinating story - based on the book by Andy Weir - and it features an incredible cast including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara and Sean Bean to name a few. And after visiting this brilliant set - one that looks exactly as if you were stepping foot on Mars - it was impossible to not have high expectations of the new film. Then came the first trailer for his new science fiction survival story, and I was officially sold.
Recently, we had yet another great opportunity. This time, it was a visit to NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Pasadena, California. Not only did we have a quick tour of the facilities, we also had a chance to get an look inside at some of their creations and testing. Yet before the tour began, we sat down at a local United Artists Theatre for a couple of presentations. Our first introduction came from Charles Elachi, the Director of JPL, who introduced a NASA MARS video which gave us a glimpse at the past fifty years of NASA’s quest to explore the planet.
It is not an easy process as you’d probably guess. According to Elachi, almost half the international attempts to land on Mars actually fail. The only institution that has landed on Mars is JPL and NASA. Not once, but seven times successfully. According to Elachi, they have a Rover - a vehicle - on Mars and it has been running on the planet for eleven years. That is eleven years of continuous presence on Mars robotically. And that is being done for the preparation of human exploration which should be in the next twenty years.
Up next was Dr. Jim Green, who has been working with NASA - starting his career at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center - since 1980. During his time on stage, he talked about their current plans they are putting in place to make human exploration on Mars a reality. As somebody with little knowledge about space travel, it was especially interesting to see the many components that go into continuing man’s adventures in the great unknown. He discussed the many facets of this complex real life adventure. They currently have Astronaut Scott Kelly aboard a space station for approximately a year in order to examine what it is like to be in space for a long period of time.
The book’s author Andy Weir was then introduced. He discussed how he gathered research for the novel, and the power of Google. Once on stage, the author brought his incredible sense of humor along with his excitement at the fact that he is standing before Ridley Scott who made his book into a movie - with a screenplay by Drew Goddard. Soon after, he brought out Sir Ridley Scott to the stage to introduce the footage. And frankly, while I was aware that we would be seeing a few scenes possibly and a brand new trailer, I was beyond thrilled when the legendary director claimed we would be seeing approximately 49 minutes of the unfinished film.
Footage Description (potential spoilers):
From the opening shots that take place on Mars, Sir Ridley Scott has once again crafted a beautiful film. Quickly, we find an astronaut crew working together on the red planet. In the horizon is a massive storm, which bears down heavily on the crew. Once it hits, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) disappears from their limited view. With a loss of radio connection, and just how badly he was hit by debris, the crew must save themselves and leave him behind. Once they are on their way back, it is reported that Watney did not survive. They were wrong.
After Watney wakes up, covered in dirt and bleeding, he attempts to get himself to safety. As he comes to the realization that he is alone, he must think quickly so that he can nurse his wounds, and find a way to survive. And by survive, he must "science the shit" out of the situation. As he moves around on the planet with the help of a Rover, the movements are noticed back on Earth. So much so that they begin to question if and how he could have actually made it through the storm. Using his smarts and what little supplies he has - including his own waste - he is able to temporarily do the impossible. That means growing food, creating water, and traveling to the next expected Mars landing.
While this is nothing like ALIEN or PROMETHEUS, it is definitely a Ridley Scott film. The score - temporary or not - has a wonderful sci-fi vibe that builds with each scene. And yes, the storm - while a little short - is an intensely powerful moment. Everything we witnessed on set, looks especially impressive in the final product. And more importantly, there is a sense that this could happen. And it's not without humor, either. At one point when Watney is contemplating what kind of crop could possibly sustain the environment, his cheerful suggestion that he is a botanist is very funny. I’m thrilled to see the actor in this role, as he looks to bring as much charisma as he possibly could to Watney.
My only minor complaint about the footage shown is that I wanted more. Not surprisingly, it ends at a point in the film that you definitely want to see the outcome. It also helps that Damon is perfect as the hero with smarts and humor. And instead of relying on a massive spectacle, THE MARTIAN is far more grounded in reality. This is perfect territory for Ridley Scott, and from what we saw, I’m thrilled to see just how it all came together. It is easy to present a couple of scenes to try and make even a bad film look good, yet sitting back and watching the first part of THE MARTIAN, I can honestly say that this is one of my most anticipated films this year.
Stay tuned for our exclusive 1:1 interviews with Dr. Jim Green and Andy Weir, as well as a Q & A session with Scott, Damon, Weir, Green and real life NASA astronaut Drew J. Feustel. THE MARTIAN opens October 2, 2015.
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