Plot summary (from the studio): During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- Despite being a fairly long movie, I was wholly invested in what was happening and never felt bored. I think I only checked the time once during the entire thing — and that was just to see if I could make it to the end before going to the restroom.
- Matt Damon was a great choice for Watney. The character had to be someone the audience would legitimately root for, and Damon is one of those actors that seems to have fairly universal appeal.
- Actually, the casting for this film was superb across the board. From the NASA people to the crew, nearly all of the main and supporting actors were great in their roles. (The only one that bothered me a little bit was Donald Glover. More below.)
- There were some genuinely touching moments in this movie. I had read the book and wasn’t expecting to get that emotional over what I was seeing, but when Watney learned that NASA had been watching him long before communication was established and when the crew learned that he was alive were surprisingly touching.
- The rescue scene was awesome! There’s a danger of letting something like that play out too long, but I thought it was filmed perfectly. It was long enough to generate tension, but not so long that I got bored with it. And when Commander Lewis actually grabbed on to him…yeah, I teared up at that.
- Whenever Mackenzie Davis was on the screen, I was mesmerized. I can’t figure out if it was because she was good in the movie or because I thought she was the same actress that plays Robyn on The Good Wife (I was wrong about that). Either way, I liked her.
- I felt that the problems Mark encountered were handled WAY too easily for his situation. He rarely exhibited any panic at all, and was just shown going about his business no matter what happened. I would have liked a bit more insight into the psychological effects of being stranded on freakin’ Mars and wanted to see him unravel at least a bit. Yeah, he pounded the steering wheel in the rover and cried once or twice, but otherwise he had ice water in his veins. Not exactly believable, even for a trained astronaut/scientist.
- Donald Glover’s character was made unnecessarily “weird”. What was with the crazy eyes and odd verbal delivery? Was the character supposed to be on the autism spectrum or something? Whatever the case, it was distracting.
It’s not often that I end up liking a movie adaptation better than the original book, but I think that might be the case here with The Martian. The film had an ideal mix of action and drama, the pacing was good, and the actors were mostly wonderful. I give this one 5 stars out of 5.