The Martian

Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain
Directed by Ridley Scott
Rating: A+

In the distant, but possible, future a space crew must abort their mission on Mars leaving one astronaut behind. Despite all odds of living on a lifeless planet, he is determined to survive.

Mark Watney (Damon) gets involved in an accident, which causes him to be left behind on Mars with a limited supply of food and a four-year waiting period to be rescued. NASA and Watney’s crew believe him to be dead but satellites reveal that to be false. In an intense race against time, NASA and international scientists work tirelessly to bring Watney home.

In this emotionally charged film, The Martian shows how awesome and terrifying space can be. There’s already the main problem: an astronaut is stuck on Mars. He has no communication with NASA, limited food, and no way off of the planet. Then he tries to survive. He is a scientist after all and probably has a few college degrees under his belt. He uses his brain to keep living but of course, this is Mars. It has a harsh atmosphere and not everything is going to work out even if NASA sends people to save him. When Watney isn’t cracking a joke to lighten the mood, everything else is tense.

Matt Damon exceeds in his role as Mark Watney. He digs into the isolation and fear of living on a planet alone. Watney has his video journal to talk to, but for months he hasn’t seen another human or heard a voice but his own. Instead of giving up when situations get worse for him, Watney figures out a solution, even if it’s not perfect. Damon can express just how difficult being a survivor on Mars is without saying a word. There’s a moment when something bad happens and the toll of working so hard to survive just cracks Watney. It’s a devastating, but emotional scene to watch.

Damon, however, isn’t carrying The Martian alone. There’s an ambitious cast to add to the credits from Jeff Daniels to Chiwetel Ejiofor, to Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, and Kristen Wiig, plus a few more. It’s almost like playing a game of “Hey, I know that face!” but each big named celebrity takes their character and makes it their own. While they all (Damon included) play scientists, the writing makes all the science jargon easy to follow. What happens feels plausible and it’s thanks to science that helps Watney survive.

The Martian could easily be nominated for Best Film at the Academy Awards next year. Between the intense story, excellent acting, a well-written script, and stunning cinematography, this is not a movie you want to miss.


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