Kyle J. Steenblik

The Martian is Perfect Sci-Fi with Hard Science and Humor

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5 stars out of 5

the martian



The Martian
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Screenplay by: Drew Goddard
Based on The Martian by Andy Weir
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Running time 141 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity.

When a dangerously strong Martian storm forces the crew of the Aries III to abandon their mission astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is injured, presumed dead, and left behind.  The rest of the crew, commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Rick Sanders (Michael Peña), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), and Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie), all begin the 9 month journey home aboard the Hermes.  Meanwhile on Mars, Watney narrowly survived the storm, although injured he is able to return to the habitat which also survived.  Upon taking stock of his situation, he refuses to give up and die and begins looking for a way to survive, and contact NASA because the storm knocked out the stations communications system.  After finding a way to grow food on a hostile alien world, his next challenge is to make contact with Earth if he has any chance of making it home.  On Earth NASA, under director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), and mission commanders Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean), has discovered that Watney is still alive although they have no way to contact him, and no good plan to rescue him.  When the Aries crew learns of his survival, they decide to take drastic measures into their own hands to bring Mark Watney Home.

The Martian is not your ordinary space epic; it is not an average film by any means.  It manages to maintain a consistent tone, terrific tension, intriguing story, compelling characters, and pitch perfect humor through the entire length of the film.  The balance of scientific accuracy, with stellar performances, and spectacular writing provided the perfect vehicle for director Ridley Scott to demonstrate that he has not lost the skill that made him the legendary director he is.  Every aspect of this film impressed me that may be because I am not only a huge sci-fi geek, but also a tremendous science nerd, not to mention an aficionado of space, but you do not have to be as big a nerd as I am to love this movie.  The science is easily digestible, if you want the nitty-gritty science details you should check out the novel.

Matt Damon is on point every moment of the film, his comedic timing is meticulous, and he is able to deliver a monologue filled with scientific details convincingly enough to believe he could in fact be a botanist.  On top of that, he easily portrays a character that is insanely likeable, which helps drive the desire for him to survive, and return home.  The supporting cast is equally populated with likeable characters, it is likely that there will be long debates among fans over who their favorite is, and there are no bad choices.

When I walked out of the theatre after seeing this film for the first time I was beyond energized, it excited me to think of manned missions to Mars, and the intense problem solving capabilities of humans.  Much like 2001 did this film is sure to ignite the imaginations of audiences around the world, and drive new generations to long to leave the earth to explore our neighboring planets.  I cannot really imagine a bigger love-note to NASA than The Martian.  When I saw this film for the second time, in 3D—more about that later—I still felt the same thrilling rush as I left, excited about the moments and elements I had not fully noticed the first time through.  I can positively say this film holds up to repeated viewing, however the 3D added little to the film, unfortunately.

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