In this day and age, we all have seen our fair share of “stranded- in-space” movies. With the recent releases of Gravity (2013) and Interstellar (2014) still fresh in our minds, the movie The Martian had a lot to live up to. The movie fol- lows the typical formula. A man gets stranded in space, finds a way to survive, NASA comes up with a mission to save him, all is well and everyone celebrates. But this movie found a way to deliver the formula in a way that still felt fresh and entertaining.
The movie is brilliantly put together by the work of writer/director duo Drew Goddard, known for his penning of Cabin in the Woods, Cloverfield and several episodes of Lost, and the famous Ridley Scott, known for his direction of Alien, Blade Runner and Thelma and Louise. Combined with the hilarious and honest performance of Matt Damon, acting in a similar situation as his Interstellar character, this movie makes for an entertaining addition to this popular genre.
The plot moves into action immediately when six astronauts of NASA’s mission Ares Three are caught in a huge storm on Mars. One member of the team, Damon’s character “Mark Watney” is struck by a piece of flying debris and stranded on the planet when the rest of the team is forced to abort mission and head back to Earth. “Watney” is forced to come up with a plan to survive on an uninhabitable planet alone until the next mission several years in the future.
The movie then picks up the usual survival movie plot. He is faced with several conflicts and each solu- tion leads to more problems. With his will to survive and his sense of humor keeping him grounded, “Watney” fights against seemingly impossible odds to survive.
The biggest strength of the movie is Damon’s stellar performance. His charm and wit keep the viewers completely captivated and invested in his survival.
The movie has a “how-to” feel to it as well, as Damon’s character constantly explains everything he does through a video diary he sets up early in the film. His lonely existence on Mars is juxtaposed with the hustle and bustle of the NASA station, where characters played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig all work tirelessly to put together a rescue mission. With witty exchanges between Damon and the NASA team and reoccurring disco tunes, this movie provides the viewer with a funny, clever atmosphere amidst the intense plot. I highly recommend this movie. It may be the best space movie I have seen.