“The Martian” Previews Showcase Wit, Intellect, and Excitement

Last week we only had a few stills from Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the Andy Weir novel The Martian, but we have started this week off with a bang, receiving not only a neat little viral marketing video, but also a full-length trailer spanning three-and-a-half minutes! Clearly, the marketing department for this flick has decided to hit the ground running, so let’s go ahead and try to keep up. The story is described as Apollo 13 meets Cast Away: astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars and has to improvise to both contact NASA to effect a rescue mission, and then survive for the requisite time it will take for the rescuers to arrive.

Our viral marketing video (a tactic director Ridley Scott employed for 2012’s Prometheus as well) is a social media-style promotion for the crew of the Ares 3, the first manned mission to Mars. We get to see Mark Watney (Matt Damon) fiddle with the camera for a while, swearing under his breath, and then interview everyone else on the ship. We get to see Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña and Sebastian Stan explain their jobs and get a few jokes in as well. Essentially, we get a few character moments and get to look at the particular sci-fi aesthetic of the film, but nothing much beyond the basic plot premise: these people are launching for Mars in six hours. Overall, this was a great way to become introduced to the tone of the film (it appears as though it will be far more comedic than I had initially thought), and is definitely a fun watch.  It is the only video currently uploaded to the Ares: Live channel, so that could portend additional material in this same vein.

Then, we got the full trailer. This is structured around a press conference delivered by Jeff Daniels, with some voice-over from Damon, who is explaining that it is a basic instinct to assist those in turmoil. After this little monologue espousing this culture touchstone, we hear Jeff Daniels explaining that a furious storm on Mars forced NASA to abort the mission, and unfortunately resulted in the death of Mark Watney. As the reporters in the room burst to their feet to ask questions, we get a quick cut to the red sands of Mars, where Watney awakens, still alive.  Determined to be the first vlogger on Mars, he begins recording himself discussing all the problems that he is facing, the sum of which force him to relay the only option he has for survival: “I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this”. There’s that humorous tone again, and I absolutely love it. Hell, it almost borders on downright cheesy, doesn’t it? Then we get a montage of Watney solving some of his problems and eventually contacting NASA. For some reason, NASA decides it is not feasible to rescue Watney, so the crew of the Ares 3 looks like they are going to go AWOL to go and get him themselves.  It looks like a lot of fun.

Yesterday I would have completely balked at any mention of The Martian – I think I probably knew that Matt Damon was in it and stranded on Mars, but I certainly didn’t care too much about it, and I probably didn’t even know that Ridley Scott was directing. Now, say what you will about Scott’s most recent films, but the man has the potential to create seminal films – and that is not something that can be said of every director. This marketing blitzkrieg has piqued my interest in The Martian, not only because of the basic story and intriguing tone, but also due to the outstanding ensemble cast that Scott has assembled. I am excited to see if Scott can create another science fiction masterpiece, and all the cards seem to be lining up for him with this one. Suffice to say, if he can’t hit this out of the park, then my expectations for Prometheus 2 will absolutely hit the floor.  But for now, I am definitely looking forward to this one.

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