Movie Review: The Martian

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 5/5 stars

Bottom Line: A funny, suspenseful, gripping drama chock full of SCIENCE!

Matt Damon should really never travel outside of his immediate surroundings.  Between “Saving Private Ryan” and “Interstellar” and now “The Martian”, things don’t go well for him when he travels more than a few thousand miles from home.  This time he needs rescuing from Mars.  Only problem is everyone thinks he’s dead.  Ouch.  So, yeah, step one, let N.A.S.A. know you’re alive.  Step two, survive for the thousand or so days it will take to launch a rescue mission.  Step three, profit?

I was a bit worried going in to the movie that we’d just be getting another “Castaway” only with Matt Damon talking to volleyballs on Mars instead of Tom Hanks on a deserted island.  Luckily, that worry was cast aside early as proof of life of Mark Watney (Matt Damon) was quickly reestablished with N.A.S.A. which enabled a pleasant back and forth of Watney vying for survival against the inhospitable Mars and N.A.S.A. trying to figure out if and how to get Watney back.  And, boy, do each of them have a boatload of problems to solve.  This is where the movie shines.  It makes science both informative and entertaining like few other movies have been able to do.  My favorite is the surprise guest appearance of a certain legendary vehicle that is used in an ingenious way to solve one of the bigger problems that Mark Watney has.

If I had to come up with one complaint about the movie, it would be that the final rescue was a tad too Hollywood-ish.  I get that you want to eke out every last drop from the suspense sponge, but a series of unfortunate events rarely leads to a pleasant outcome.  The sheer amount of things that had to go perfectly to counteract the unfortunate events was so daunting that it made the rescue a little roll-your-eyes.  But what do you expect?  Of course it’s going to be like that.  The trick will be if the book is like that too.

I probably liked this movie a lot more than I should have, but I am a sucker for well written science packed (and accurate-ish) movies.  With some rare exceptions like the insta-pressurizing airlocks which were obviously done for ease of film making, I can’t really come up with any glaring science flaws upon first watch.  And there were definitely be multiple watches of this movie in the future.  Now on to the book which I was hoping to get to before watching the movie.