ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Martian: movie review

Updated on October 2, 2015
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

In theaters now.
In theaters now. | Source

These days, when you hear “superhero movie” you probably think of a comic book characters with some kind of amazing power, fighting crime as skyscrapers tumble around them. But The Martian proves such a hero can come in another form entirely-- a solo scientist who has to jury-rig his way off of the surface of Mars.

Based on the best-selling novel by Andy Weir, The Martian tells the engrossing story of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), a botanist/astronaut who is stranded on the Red Planet after his crew thinks he died during their evacuation from a brutal storm. Turns out, though, Watney survived (though only barely), and with every conceivable odd stacked against him, he has to keep surviving long enough for a rescue mission to reach him-- that is, after NASA realizes (two months later) that he actually is still alive.

Anyone who’s read Weir’s book knows The Martian is jam-packed with science. Talk of radioactive isotopes and splitting molecules dominates, as Watney faces challenge after challenge and, with extremely limited resources, has to “make it work”. But at its heart, it’s a simple story of survival-- a sort of Cast Away meets Apollo 13. And in director Ridley Scott’s capable hands, the movie soars and inspires.

Essentially three stories in one, The Martian not only follows Watney’s travails but also those of his space-traveling crew, who must decide what to do when they realize he has survived, and also the NASA executives back on Earth, who not only have a massive PR problem to deal with but also that little matter of bringing their boy back home.

Damon, for his part, is terrific and strengthens his standing as perhaps the most underrated actor at work today. The fact that he’s only scored two acting Oscar nominations (lead actor in 1998’s Good Will Hunting and supporting actor in 2010’s Invictus) is mind-boggling. The Martian basically revolves around him, and he carries the film with a performance that is at once intense, understated, and also, surprisingly, hilarious. Watney’s wry sense of humor (morbid and otherwise) injects some life into a story that may otherwise have been just another survival tale.

The supporting cast, including Chiwetel Ejiofor as a NASA bigwig, Jessica Chastain as the commander on Watney’s mission, and Michael Pena as her wise-cracking pilot, are also first-rate… though Jeff Daniels as the hard-headed NASA director and Kristen Wiig as the agency’s PR flak were both oddly mis-cast.

Along with Damon, director Scott is a big reason The Martian works. After a string of so-so efforts (Prometheus, chief among them), he proves that he still has the ability to transform audiences to another world. Choosing to use the red deserts of Jordan (instead of CGI) as Mars was a brilliant move, but it’s the outer space sequences (reminiscent of Gravity) that give The Martian its power. Damned if you don’t even feel a little weightless yourself as you sit in the theater.

Conclusion

Even though the script occasionally dips its toes into the pool of cliched lines, there’s more than enough at play in The Martian to make it one of the noteworthy films of the fall-- a wild ride that, as a bonus, may just inspire a budding scientist to put down that Xbox controller, pick up a chemistry set, and one day become a real hero.

Rating

4/5 stars

Worth the 3D glasses?

Indeed. Aside from the Mars storms (which are even more harrowing with debris flying in front of your face), the outer space sequences almost demand 3D, and the sweeping vistas of Mars/Jordan are made even more astounding with those charming glasses.

'The Martian' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)