Matt's stuck on Mars, but that won't stop him popping in to Royston this weekend

PUBLISHED: 04:56 24 November 2015

Matt Damon is up against the odds in The Martian

Matt Damon is up against the odds in The Martian

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It's fair to say that intelligent sci-fi isn't the default setting when the money men from Hollywood give the green light to a space epic.

Stacks of green screen special effects, alien adversaries with outlandish make-up, shoot outs in outer space and plentiful merchandise opportunities for character figures and other tie-ins – that’s the sort of thing that floats their boat.

So when a film comes along that is all about the characters and the story, rather than the comic book trickery, it either gets a royal reception or sinks without trace.

Of course, anyone setting out to make intelligent sci-fi has another pitfall to avoid – there’s always the chance that you will finish up with a pretentious pile of pants that sets out to answer eternal questions but ends up being a wordy wodge of stilted dialogue and cinematic confusion.

That’s far from the case in The Martian, Ridley Scott’s latest outer space epic – the worst thing you can say about it is that it runs for a good bit over two hours when it’s essentially a very simple story.

On a manned mission to Mars everything goes wrong and Matt Damon gets left behind.

Now stranded and alone, with supplies sufficient for just 30 days, he manages to get a message back home and a rescue mission swings into action. It’s going to take ages to reach him, though, and somehow he has to figure out how to survive.

Luckily he’s a brainy sort, and back on earth a whole team – Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, even Sean Bean have parts to play in what you might think is essentially a solo piece – are rooting for him.

The Martin is showing on Friday and Saturday at Royston Picture Palace – visit to reserve tickets.

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