If a film grossed over 630 million dollars worldwide, even though it is neither a sequel, a remake nor part of an established comic franchise, that means something. All the more so when it’s not a bombastic action film, but the story of a man who simply masters one thing: science. Stop, please don’t close this article already bored!
After all, we are talking about a blockbuster with numerous stars, which triggered a thoroughly strange controversy – and is repeated today on free TV: On October 8, 2022, Sat.1 will show the Matt Damon megahit “The Martian – Save Mark Watney” from 8:15 p.m..
If you don’t have time tonight or just don’t feel like commercial breaks, you can find the film adaptation of the novel on Disney+, among other places. One thing can already be revealed: when trying to make sense of the absurd, controversial debate surrounding “The Martian”, the streaming service is not much help…
» “The Martian” on subscription to Disney+*
As part of NASA’s Ares 3” Mars as a violent sandstorm heads towards them. Commander Lewis orders an immediate departure – without Mark Watney, who is already presumed dead. Wrongly, as it turns out. For the time being, the botanist has to keep his head above water with the pitiful means left behind on Mars. When he finally manages to signal Earth that he is still alive, Principal Sanders (Jeff Daniels) begins to organize an urgent rescue mission. Easier said than done…
Andy Weir’s novel was celebrated not least for its easy-to-understand, yet enthusiastically detailed depiction of scientific processes. Screenwriter Drew Goddard (“The Cabin in the Woods”) and “Gladiator” director Ridley Scott had to face the challenge of adequately converting an amusingly written novel about supposedly dry-dramatic content. In view of the generally very positive reception of the film, including a strong DashFUN criticism, one can say: They succeeded!
In his script, Goddard vaporizes the “Science! Hooray!” attitude of the novel congenially and gives the protagonist an impressive “Oh, that’ll be fine!” attitude including snippy, smug gallows humor. Scott, on the other hand, stages the whole thing with an almost enviable light-footedness, just as the dazzling cast consistently has a witty charisma. In addition to the stars already mentioned, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, “Doctor Strange” scene thief Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Add to that the way Damon plays the titular character: somewhere between relaxed modesty and deep-rooted joy at his MacGyver-esque gadgets. Thus, Watney lets his struggle for survival look like an irresponsible, yet unforgettable and at times even cheerful adventure vacation. So it’s actually not surprising that The Martian won Golden Globes for Best Comedy Lead Actor and Best Comedy, among others.
Exactly this genre classification caused a stink in the trade press and the film industry in 2015 and 2016. Because the thought that a Mars survival story would be classified as a comedy not only puzzled those responsible for the awards reporting, but also some filmmakers. For months it was argued that The Martian was clearly a drama — and “Dating Queen” director Judd Apatow, who was up against Damon’s Mars story at the Globes, couldn’t help but dig at the rival film’s perceived lack of laughs.
By the way, Wikipedia stays out of the debate and simply names “science fiction” as the genre of the film. Likewise, Disney+ dances around the discussion and mentions as keywords about “The Martian”: “Survival”, “Sci-Fi” and “Action & Adventure”.
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