Take all the fun parts out of Ridley Scott’s The Martian; like wise cracking Matt Damon, explosions, NASA love, and edge of your seat thrills and your left with Approaching The Unknown.
Saying that doesn’t mean, rookie writer/ director Mark Elijah Rosenberg’s Approaching The Unknown is a bad film. It’s not entirely. It’s biggest problem suffers from a poor release date, the others issues I’ll deal if later, and there are others.
Staring Mark Strong, whose more believable as an astronaut than Damon anyway, is Capt. Stanaforth whose heading a one way trip to Mars to establish a colony. Old School vet Luke Wilson plays ‘Skinny’ Stanaforth’s mission control navigator in Houston.
For 95% of the film, Strong is alone in the space craft, his inner monologue keeps the audience company. He spouts off dime store philosophy about life, purpose, death, stuff like that. He also drops some knowledge on creating water from dirt. Occasionally, Wilson pops up on one of many ships monitors to relay information with Strong or check on his progress. The only other interaction Strong’s Stanaforth’s has is watching videos from applicants of hopeful Mars colony dwellers; and a brief stop at a space station to pick up suppliers. There’s also a subplot with an explorer following Strong’s ship, but after a malfunction sends her of course we don’t her from her again.
After a major setback, Stanaforth is faced with a major dilemma; go home to Earth or continue to Mars. It’s at this important impasse the audience is supposed to care, I’ll bet most won’t.
Even moments of perceived danger and disaster are dosed in melancholy throughout Rosenberg’s script. Strong, who puts the picture on his back, does his best to inflict humanity into Approaching The Unknown but is held back by the subdued nature of the film. Rosenberg wants Approaching The Unknown is saying something meaningful so bad that he forgets to be entertaining. Instead he only reminds of better films that covered the same space.
Being a fan of films like 2001, The Martian, Sunshine and others I wanted to like Approaching The Unknown, I wanted to root for Stanaforth’s mission to save humanity, but sadly, with the help of coffee, was stay awake, mildly interested.
So if you really like space stuff or Mark Strong then by all means Approavh the Unknown, if not rent The Martian.