‘The Martian’: Ridley Scott’s newest film ‘out of this world’


OK, I will be honest with you: I really did not want to see “The Martian.” I’ve been about done with space dramas since “Gravity” and  “Interstellar.” Not even the ever-charming Matt Damon (starring as protagonist/astronaut Mark Watney) could change that. Or so I thought.

The movie begins with a quick introduction to the film’s band of six astronauts: four basically replaceable “good guys” (OK, so they’re cooler than that, but I’m getting to the important stuff!), Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), and Mark Watney—an astronaut with a doctorate in botany, a skill which literally saves his life. Oh, and by the way, they’re all on Mars—walking around in probably the coolest spacesuits ever conceived.

Everything’s great, and the six scientists are collecting tons of information on Mars until a larger-than-expected space storm forces the astronauts to abort the mission entirely, fleeing to the spaceship and Earth (a journey which takes no small amount of time).

Disastrously, in the craziness of the space storm, Watney is hit by a huge piece of debris and knocked into the clouds of the dust, out of sight. The other astronauts’ suits send up a signal that Watney’s suit has been breached, implying that he is as good as dead in the Mars atmosphere. After a frantic and fruitless search amidst the devastating storm, the commander and the other astronauts are forced to leave Mars and the apparently dead Watney behind.

Now we get to the actual premise of the movie: Watney isn’t dead—although literally impaled by the debris that first struck him. After a gruesome scene of Watney dealing with his life-threatening wounds, He takes in the hardest fact of them all: He is alone on Mars, doomed to eventually die of starvation if no other calamity hits him first. But, luckily, Watney has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. Rounding out this story (based on a novel of the same name by Andy Weir) is a compelling group of NASA scientists/workers (played by stars including Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor and, rather strangely, Kristen Wiig) all working to help Watney return to planet Earth.

Although none of us can ever really know what being trapped on Mars, alone, with our brainpower as our only hope, feels like, Matt Damon sure gives audiences a pretty darn good idea. In every scene, he is real: his fear, hope, anguish displayed in the most undeniably human way possible. Basically, I’m going to be mad if he doesn’t receive an Oscar nomination for this outstanding performance.

My own love for Matt Damon aside, this movie is worth watching. So, so, so worth watching—my brain may actually have melted from the sheer enjoyment of it, but I’d definitely risk seeing it again. Much to my cynical astonishment, it is not just a “space drama”—it is a genuinely fantastic movie, inspiring in the least pandering way possible (and that’s coming from me, the certifiable queen of “hating-cheesy-inspirational-things”). If nothing else, “The Martian” will make you feel grateful, even if only for a moment, when you’re walking out of the theater—subconsciously celebrating the fact that you’re still here: safe and sound, on our huge, messy, scary, wild, lovely planet Earth.

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