DVD Review: Matt Damon is the lone survivor in ‘The Martian’

Evan Elsasser, Staff Writer

The sensational thriller “The Martian” keeps the audience enthralled in every scene of the movie. You could almost swear you are abandoned on Mars right along with Mark Watney (Matt Damon).

The film “The Martian,” directed by Ridley Scott and based off of Andy Weir’s novel, tells of an astronaut who has been deserted on Mars after his crew from the Aries III mission leaves the planet during a powerful storm. Living on a planet where nothing can grow and the supplies are extremely limited makes things quite complicated for Watney as he struggles to survive. Watney not only faces the obvious question of how to get home, but also confronts extreme loneliness. However he finds a way to deal with it through blunt humor, making the film that much more wonderful.

In an effort to survive against all odds, Watney attempts growing his own food and rationing the portions left behind by his crew members. He lives inside the station on Mars, trying to gain communication lines with the base on earth. He feels without achieving this, there is no point in trying to make it home.

Although there are other actors in this film, Damon for many parts is a one-man cast, and he does an admirable job. Watney’s rich and somewhat dry humor gives the film an edge up on other space movies such as “Interstellar” or “Gravity.” Instead of being solely about Watney’s journey in space, he creates a more welcoming and relatable atmosphere for the viewer to associate with.

Because the original crew of six on the Aries III mission does not know Watney is still alive after vacating Mars, they continue on their trip back to Earth. But as soon as they hear the news of his survival they immediately join the rescue mission in hopes of helping their friend get off this desolate planet. All six of Watney’s crew members do a nice job in the film, but Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) is definitely the star of this crew. The audience can easily tell how genuinely she cares about Watney, she is the first one to jump up and make sure he is ok during the storm, she even risks her own life to make sure he is still alive. She truly connects to her part, taking control in the movie just as her job of captain of the crew entails.

Not only does Watney get support from his crew floating in Space, but also from the NASA base on Earth also fights to keep him alive and well, just from 33.9 million miles away. Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) does a wonderful job playing a part of Watney’s support team from Earth; his methods are blunt, tough, bold, and at times harsh but this is what makes his character so entertaining. He keeps the audience guessing about what wild thing will come out of his mouth next, and even though he seems like the kind of person one should hate, the audience can not help but love him.

The audience quickly gets pulled into this whirlwind of emotion because of their curiosity and infatuation with Watney’s health. The tendency to feel concerned and worried when seeing a person in need is quite common, and Scott finds the perfect way to play to people’s hearts during this film, connecting with the audience in more than just one way.

The striking cinematography in this movie captures the true desolate and dry feeling of the distant planet Mars, or more accurately, Wadi Rum in the south of Jordan. Drone shots depict the striking land and give a realistic showing of what life on Mars is like. Even though the film does use special effects, the background itself carries a lot of the weight.

Although I am not a super science fiction fan, I loved the science part of this film. It is tasteful and not overdone, like some educational movies. In fact, when my family first asked me to see this movie with them, I refused to; I did not want to have to sit through another three-hour long boring movie about space. But they broke me down, and I was happy they did. Now, I am always up to go see movies about space or historical movies and it is all because of the film “The Martian.”

While watching the film “The Martian,” the audience is sure to be utterly intertwined in the dynamic plot, superb acting, and breathtaking scenery. This movie definitely belongs at the top of everyone’s watch list.

Our Grade: A
“The Martian”
Rated: PG-13
Length: 141 minutes
Genre: Science fiction adventure
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean