I’m going to hand it to director Ridley Scott, he really put together a really good flick. Of course, it comes as no surprise as he rarely makes a bad movie. With the stellar cast he was handed, this movie was sure to deliver. Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, Interstellar), a famously wooden actor, gave an amazing performance as the main character, Mark Watney. Opposite to him was Jeff Daniels (Dumb & Dumber) as Teddy Sanders, the head of NASA. It’s his job to weigh all their options and make the best decision, which frequently seems like a heartless one.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN MINOR SPOILERS – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
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The movie starts out with Watney, a botanist, and the rest of the Ares III crew on the surface of Mars, digging up samples and passing quips back and forth until the mission commander, Lewis (Jessica Chastain of Zero Dark Thirty) has tech. specialist Johanssen (Kate Mara of Fantastic Four) cut the comms link. Shortly after, a storm NASA was monitoring was upgraded and the team on the planet’s surface were forced to run back to the Ares for an emergency evacuation. On their way, a communications relay breaks and hits Watney, knocking him off course and out. Lewis attempts to find him, but the storm’s building fury forces and the lack of life signs from Watney’s suit force her to abandon hope and run to the shuttle to just barely make it before launch. Thus begins the movie.
Of course, we already know Watney isn’t dead, otherwise there wouldn’t be a movie. The crew, NASA, and the world, however, believe he has died in the storm. The even give a lovely funeral for him as the rest of the crew is on their way home. Only Venkat Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor of 12 Years a Slave) believes there might be a possibility that Watney might still be alive. He wants satellite time to look at the sight. If anything, he can determine if the HAB was still in tact so they can save money on their next mission. Sanders fears the PR nightmare if images of Watney’s body is broadcast, since their satellite footage is publicly broadcast for transparency reasons, so he denies this request, at least for a few months.
Meanwhile, on Mars’ surface, Watney wakes up, returns to the HAB and tries to figure out what he’s going to do, give up and die or try to find a way to survive for the next four years. Of course, he decides that he wants to live, and he begins making plans to figure out how to stretch his meager supplies and how to possibly grow some new ones. Lucky for him, he’s a botanist, right? He gets to work, conducting experiments and figuring out what he needs to do to get his rover to the next landing sight so he can be there in the next four years.
Two months have passed on Earth, and the whole world believes that he’s dead. Sanders has finally relented and allowed Kapoor to aim a satellite at the HAB site to check its status. Kapoor emails Mindy Parks (Mackenzie Davis of Halt and Catch Fire) the coordinates he wants observed, and she aims a satellite at the HAB. Parks quickly realizes that the rover’s location changes and alerts Kapoor who alerts Sanders and mission flight commander Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean of Game of Thrones) and the plan to rescue Watney starts.
There are very few dull moments in this movie. The writers, Drew Goddard and Andy Weir, made sure to throw several plausible complications in the way of Watney, NASA, and the Ares III crew to keep it interesting. There are even a few moments where you might start to cry, but those are kept at bay by a quick movement into action.
This movie must be seen in 3D to truly appreciate the beautiful cinematography. Shot in Hungary and Jordan, the landscapes were mesmerizing, and the 3D effect just made them pop. It, also, added to all the explosive moments in the film, and the storm effects they used frequently.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, The Martian is a great film. Matt Damon delivered a beautiful performance, even doing a little shimmy to the ‘least disco song on Lewis’ play-list,’ while driving the rover on one of his test runs. The soundtrack was filled with her disco music, which will make you laugh as Watney keeps making quips about it throughout the movie. Daniels‘ performance as the head of NASA was outstanding, and Ejiofor and Bean really make you want to get behind him to fight for Watney. I’d have to say I really loved this film. I was going to give it an 8.5, but realized there really wasn’t anything bad about this movie. I can’t wait to buy it. I may even have to purchase a 3D TV for it. – 9.5/10
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine