The Martian: A Compelling Story with Stellar Cast and Plenty of Charm

By Hutton Jackson
A&E and Online Editor

This article was originally published in Issue 4, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (October 22, 2015). Click here to view the entire issue.

Photo courtesy of IMDB.
Photo courtesy of IMDB.

Matt Damon (The Bourne Series, Good Will Hunting) stars in The Martian, a film directed by Ridley Scott that features an astronaut who gets stranded on the surface of Mars for over a year.

The story features astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and member of the Ares III mission, which is intended to be a month long. When a powerful storm hits, the crew is forced to abort and return home. Tragedy strikes when Watney is struck by debris and becomes separated from the group. The crew is forced to abandon Watney, who they believe is dead. However, Watney awakens and must figure out a way to survive on the desolate plane alone.

Matt Damon plays the part of Watney, the determined and optimistic astronaut, with charm and wit. His character is resourceful as well as sarcastic, making jokes to help himself get through the various trials he experiences while on Mars. The supporting cast of the film is nothing short of stellar, with almost every role being played by A-list stars, including the likes of Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejifor, Donald Glover, Sean Bean and Michael Peña.

As for the story, the film starts off following Watney’s first days alone on Mars and for the beginning half of the movie, Watney’s struggles are the focus of the film, which feels like Tom Hanks’ Castaway mixed with Sandra Bullock’s Gravity. However, the second half shifts towards the NASA crew. While the film doesn’t suffer terribly from this shift in focus, the result is a lack of depth in Watney’s overall character arc. Despite this, Drew Goddard’s script is extremely well-written with plenty of clever dialogue and a surprising amount of humor.

Another aspect that makes it worth a trip to the theater is the cinematography. The Mars and space scenes are breathtaking and allow the audience to feel as if they are actually seeing the red planet itself. In addition, the special effects are above par, although certain space scenes do look below average compared to films such as Interstellar and Gravity.

Altogether, The Martian is one of the better films of the year, even if its second half doesn’t live up to its first. It manages to find a happy balance between a simple, yet intriguing story and stunning visuals. Sci- fi fans who enjoy realistic characters as well as compelling drama should enjoy Ridley Scott’s latest film.

The Martian is rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images and brief nudity.

Overall Rating: 8/10

S.H.A.R.K. Grade
(Rates on a scale of 1-5, how much Suspense, Humor, Action, Romance, and Kid-friendly material is in the movie)
1- None to Very Little, 2- Little, 3- Average, 4- Much, 5- Very much

S: 5 H: 3 A: 4 R: 1 K: 2

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