“The Martian” hit theaters this past weekend and won the box office with its debut. Shooting off with an estimated $55 million, the film almost managed to sell itself as the highest-grossing October release ever, but fell short to “Gravity,” another popular space movie that was released two years prior.
Its success at the box office comes as no surprise after watching the move. Matt Damon provides one of his best performances as Mark Watney, an astronaut left behind following an emergency mission scrub who’s struggling to spare his own life on planet Mars all on his lonesome.
Being the crew’s botanist, Watney is able to somehow colonize Mars and sustain himself on a planet where nothing grows using only leftover potatoes and his own feces. He assumes there’s no way for him to come into contact with NASA for years and finds himself on his own to supply enough food for four years until the next mission arrives on Mars.
Luckily for him, satellite images reveal to NASA only two months later that he’s actually still alive. Through his own ingenuity and crazy vibes he shares with some of the researchers back home, Watney discovers a way to communicate enough with NASA to take the steps necessary to his survival.
Despite the fact that everyone on Earth was allowed to hear about Watney’s survival, matters aren’t taken to tell the crew that left him behind until another couple of months later when they’re already more than half way back home.
This predicament is only one on the list of many that Watney struggles over with NASA. Though everyone is committed to Watney’s survival, the proper path to ensure it isn’t always the most peaceful thing to come about, which allows the crowd both some anxiety and some laughs.
Damon does an amazing job playing the humourous smartass Andy Weir originally scripted in his novel. The comedic relief, to the film’s benefit, ended up playing a much bigger part than I would’ve originally thought for a sci-fi drama. Damon’s character is always cracking jokes to himself and whoever’s watching, whether he’s having a good, plentiful day listening to disco music or he’s facing what may be his own certain death measured out to the exact day by the scientists watching him back home.
Of course, Damon wasn’t the only shining star of what may have been the best sci-fi space movies in recent film history.
Director Ridley Scott kept his notable style, presenting the dark tale of human survival (only this time with a larger sense of humor).
The entire on-screen cast could not have done better as a team, either. Whether I’m speaking of how well Jessica Chastain presented herself as the crew’s captain– taking direct responsibility for Watney’s death and blaming herself for the struggles the rest of the astronauts face as a result– or I’m referring to how well Jeff Daniels played his part as an overly professional, borderline jerkish director of NASA (of course, how else would you expect the director of NASA to act?).
The true hero of the movie who crafts the final plan to save Watney was Rich Purnell (Donald Glover). Purnell was a (hilarious) jittery, caffeine addicted, beyond-genius NASA astronomer. The way he contradicts the common character of the film helps the storyline flow even better than it already did.
Overall, “The Martian’s” plot was impeccable, emotional and laughable enough to gain four out of five stars from me and the movie quality it showcased boosted the film up to a total of four-and-a-half out of five stars. It’s definitely a must-see so next time you find yourself with any free time I’d spare the cash on a movie ticket.