"The Martian" / Made In Roath 2015
During a scientific mission on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after an explosion. Left behind by his crewmates, he faces a struggle, not only to survive, but also to alert his bosses on Earth as to his plight; and even if he were to succeed, any successful rescue would take years…
“The Martian” is Sir Ridley Scott’s most satisfying film in quite some time, possibly since “Gladiator”. Matt Damon’s irreverent, resourceful hero is supported by an excellent cast, including Jessica Chastain as his ship’s commander, Jeff Daniels as the careworn head of NASA, Kristen Wiig as a PR chief, Donald Glover and McKenzie Davis as minor but crucially important nerds, and a number of Brits – Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Benedict Wong - in pivotal roles. As might be expected from the director of “Blade Runner”, the visuals are breath-taking; but there is also much humour, the 1970s disco soundtrack underlining Watney’s determination to remain upbeat.
Written by Drew Goddard, based on a novel by Andrew Weir, and set only a little way into the future, the science is on a believably human level – no chatty computers, no magical food-generating machines, no instant transportation through wormholes, etc. This is a tale of human courage, ingenuity and co-operation. In fact, in a genre which thrives on dystopianism, “The Martian” is hearteningly positive and optimistic. I almost wish I’d paid the extra to see it in 3D.
This past week saw Cardiff’s boutique Made In Roath Arts Festival, with artists’ open houses, pub theatre, music, photography etc. I managed to contribute this year, with a purpose-made video inspired by “The Book Of American Negro Poetry” (ed. James Weldon Johnson, 1922), shown in the garden of vegetarian bar/restaurant Milgi.
The Aframerican Poet from OTHNIEL SMITH on Vimeo.