Film Review: ‘The Martian’ is a marvelous sci-fi experience

Logan King, Staff Writer

Mars has recently been getting a lot of attention ever since NASA discovered water upon the barren planet. This recent discovery has brought up the question on whether the red planet is able to sustain life. This is the exact question that is asked in Ridley Scott’s latest film, “The Martian.” Based off of Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, the film follows the struggles of one man as he attempts to survive the unfavorable conditions of Mars and make it back home safely.

A manned mission to Mars is aborted when an intense storm hits and the Ares III crew is forced to evacuate the planet. Mark Watney (Matt Damon), an astronaut and botanist, is hit by debris and is presumed dead by his crew. Fortunately, the rest of the crew is able to escape unharmed, but unbeknownst to everyone, Watney is actually alive and is now stranded alone on the uninhabited planet with no means of communication. Now, Watney must use whatever resources he has and survive until the next manned mission comes in four years. Meanwhile, NASA and the Ares III crew soon discover Watney’s fate and try to make every attempt to rescue the poor astronaut.

Viewers are immediately hooked to the film’s plot from the start, when they first see Watney abandoned, alone, and injured on Mars. There is an immediate concern for the poor astronaut and also a sense of curiosity on how he will get home. Engagement with the plot constantly increases as Watney’s condition gets better or worse. The transition of scenes between Watney on Mars, NASA on Earth, and the Ares III crew in space all balance out real well, as none of it is really convoluted with each other.

Despite the context of the plot, the entire movie is surprisingly lighthearted and often quite humorous. It is really is surprising how much viewers may laugh throughout the film. Even when Watney finds himself in the most dire of situations, he can still make time to share a properly-suited quip.

If a movie is going to be about saving one man, then that man better be someone who the audience desperately wants to be saved and Matt Damon is just that. Damon is able to grasp different layers of his character’s personality that all blend naturally, making Damon’s character feel more fleshed out. At one moment, he is charming and arrogant, while the next moment he can shift between states of despair and determination.

While Matt Damon may be the star of the film, all of the other actors and actresses who appear in the film all play their parts really well. There are plenty of great actors who does a terrific job playing their supportive roles. Jessica Chastain, along with the other talent who play the Ares III crew, does a pretty good job, as the interactions between her and Watney deliver a sense of family connection. Another notable mention is Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor, the Mars mission director of NASA who is the most committed to rescuing Watney out of the NASA team. Overall, all the supportive talent does a fairly good job in the role they played, no matter how big the role is.

While Mars is a desolate planet, there is a sense of allure that is can be seen among the planet. There are plenty moments where the films shows shots and angles that really capture the gorgeous scenery that can possibly only be found among other worlds like Mars. It shows that even though Mars is a dead planet, there can still be a sense of life that be seen. Of course the scenery is most likely carried through heavy uses of special effects, which the film does a fine job with.

For those who are into the sciences, it may be reassuring for them to hear that the film does carry tons of scientific accuracy along the film’s plot. Not to say that the entire film is completely realistic in terms of the laws of Physics, especially a few noticeable flaws that may be found the final act. Yet the film’s terms of what is possible does seem real enough to appeal as if it can happen in our universe.

Arguably though, the best part of this entire movie is the message it inspires. The movie constantly plays on the feeling of hope, tugging the audience back and forth between feelings of relief and concern. The film also at times shows a sense of teamwork not only among Americans, but also between other countries.

“The Martian” has a lot of great qualities in terms of its characters, story, tone, and scenery. There is a lot that can be taken away while watching this movie. No matter what though, you’ll be so lost in the experience that you’ll suddenly remember what planet you’re really on once the end credits appear.

Our Grade: A
“The Martian”
Rated: PG-13
Length: 141 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor