Davis: Damon gives The Martian new life

With director Ridley Scott and actor Matt Damon on-board, The Martian shifted into high gear.

Matt Damon (left)

We already got a taste of Matt Damon in a space suit last year in Interstellar in a small role as an astronaut stranded on a distant planet.  In The Martian, he again plays an astronaut stranded on a planet, but he is a much more sympathetic character.

Based upon the novel of the same name, the screenplay was written by Drew Goddard who worked on the TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias, Lost and most recently Daredevil.  He was also the writer of Cloverfield and wrote and directed the horror hit The Cabin in the Woods.  Goddard was originally going to direct The Martian but the film did not move forward. His screenplay got the attention of the great Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) and with Damon on-board, the production shifted into high gear.

Damon plays an astronaut on Mars who is left stranded by the rest of his crew after he is presumed dead. With only meagre supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to stay alive while NASA and his former crewmates try to find a way to rescue him. Also starring Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean and Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Martian premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to wide acclaim.  And even though there have been a few “stranded in space” movies over the past few years, most notably Moon, Gravity and even Interstellar, The Martian will likely be October’s biggest movie.

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has won multiple Genie awards for Maelström, Polytechnique and Incendies (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film).  He followed those up with Prisoners and Enemy, both starring Jake Gyllenhaal and both receiving critical acclaim. In fact, of his six movies listed on Rotten Tomatoes, his lowest rated is Enemy at 75 per cent and his highest happens to be his latest at 92 per cent.

That latest movie is Sicario, starring Emily Blunt as an idealistic FBI agent who is enlisted by an elite government task force official (Josh Brolin) to aid in the escalating war against drugs along the U.S.-Mexico border. Led by an enigmatic consultant with questionable past (the type of role that Benicio Del Toro plays so well), the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing her to question everything that she believes in order to survive.

It is very exciting that one of my favourite animated movies of all time is coming back to the big screen, even if for only two showings. Originally released in 1999, The Iron Giant was the directorial debut of Brad Bird, who went on to helm The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. It features the voices of Jennifer Aniston and Vin Diesel and currently holds a 96 per cent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Fans of the original story, which centred on the relationship between a young boy and an innocent alien giant robot, will relish the two new scenes added to what is being called the Signature Edition.

The Iron Giant: Signature Edition shows at the Grand 10 on Sunday at 12:55 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m.