Left for dead, an astronaut must overcome the challenges of surviving long enough to be rescued on a hostile planet
For Mark Watney (Matt Damon), the main character of The Martian who is stranded on the red planet, an unexpected turn of events can mean several things, most of which would result in him dying.
“If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m fucked,” said Watney in the film.
Astronaut Mark Watney is left stranded on Mars, presumed dead following a fierce storm during an expedition. Unbeknownst to Earth, NASA and his crewmates, Watney survived. After staggering back to the habitation module (HAB), he is faced with the grim realization that he is now the sole inhabitant of a planet that never wanted him there to begin with, and must somehow overcome all odds if he wants to be around for the next manned mission to Mars three years from that time.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, all NASA can do is watch helplessly, simultaneously keeping Watney’s crew in the dark of his survival while attempting to organize a rescue mission.
Directed by Ridley Scott, The Martian was adapted by Drew Goddard from a book with by Andy Weir. This science-fiction drama captures the viewer as they follow Watney and his unending ingenuity in his day-to-day struggle to stay alive.
The storyline jumps from Mars to NASA to the Ares III crew on the Hermes, a spacecraft headed back to Earth after the failed Mars mission.
Back on Earth, tensions run high with Watney’s life and NASA’s reputation at stake, often resulting in clashes between the different high-ranking officials at NASA as they micromanage Watney’s every decision from 225 million kilometers away.
The cinematic composition is striking, with bird’s eye view shots of the vast emptiness of the surface of Mars. The HAB that Watney calls home is an insignificant cluster of white dots in a wasteland of dirt, dust and rocky outcrops.
Matt Damon delivers a stunning performance as the sole inhabitant of a desert planet, fluctuating between a confident certainty that he will overcome the red planet and a deep, crushing fear that he may be the first person to die on Mars. His only company is himself and his potato crop and Captain Lewis’ (Jessica Chastain) endless repertoire of disco music to keep him company.
Although the character arc was well developed, the beginning felt hasty as the narrative dove into NASA’s attempt to bring him home and the subsequent unfolding storyline. The opening also felt rushed when Watney jumped into action, drawing upon his background as a botanist to grow crops that would sustain him until a rescue mission picked him up. Strangely, Watney didn’t seem concerned with having to survive three years with limited supplies, and had little trouble coming to terms with total isolation.
The Martian is a visually striking, buckle-your-seatbelt high-stakes adventure, where the only two options are either to survive or die trying. It explores the terrifying reality that the closest help is a 12-minute communication delay or three-year mission away. This is a must-see for the science-fiction fan or would-be cosmic explorer.
Running Time: 2h 22m
Director: Ridley Scott
Actors: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig