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Sugar House Journal

Dan's Review: "The Martian" one of the best films of the year

Oct 04, 2015 18h04 ● By Dan Metcalf

Matt Damon in The Martian - © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

The Martian (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity.

Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Benedict Wong, Mackenzie Davis, Naomi Scott, Lili Bordán, Nick Mohammed.

Written by Drew Goddard, based on the novel by Andy Weir.

Directed by Ridley Scott.



Space dramas are a thing these days. The trend really took off (pun intended) when Gravity impressed everyone with outstanding visuals and a gripping tale of survival. It was followed by the equally (if not cryptic) spectacular Interstellar the next year. Now comes The Martian, the film adaptation of Andy Weir’s successful novel of the same name, starring Matt Damon.

Mark Watney (Damon) is part of the Ares III science expedition on Mars when his team is hit by a sudden sandstorm. When Watney is struck by debris, swept away and presumed dead, mission commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) is forced to decide between saving the rest of her team or trying to find rescue him. She makes the difficult choice, and barely escapes the storm with her teammates, minus Watney. When the news of Watney’s death reaches home, NASA leaders announce the tragedy to the world and the Ares crew heads home. The crew includes Rick (Michael Pena), Beth (Kate Mara), Chris (Sebastian Stan) and Alex (Aksel Hennie). Imagine NASA’s surprise when they discover several days later that Watney survived the storm and had already begun efforts to grow his own food inside the Ares lab. Eventually, Mark makes contact with NASA leaders, including Teddy (Jeff Daniels), Annie (Kristen Wiig), Mitch (Sean Bean) and Vincent (Chiwetel Ejiofor). The NASA folks are faced with the difficult choice of mounting an expensive and nearly impossible rescue mission that could take months. Eventually, all the brainy folks on Earth come up with a plan that gives the returning Ares crew a choice that will require them to stay in space for another 9 months, or leaving Mark to die.

The Martian is an exceptional film, and one of the best of the year. Everything comes together to make this happen, including a clever and witty script adaptation from Drew Goddard, an excellent performance from Damon, and equally brilliant casting and chemistry from the ensemble. The visual composition depicting Mars is also extraordinary, with Ridley Scott turning in one of his best directorial efforts in recent memory (cinematographer Dariusz Wolski deserves a lot of credit, too).

What sets The Martian apart from all the other recent space dramas is a sense of fun and humor in the face of great peril. It’s a movie that appeals to a greater sense of humanity, and reinforces the idea that even though we may be faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we are never alone, and we can accomplish great things if we keep trying.

The Martian Trailer