Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service – Matt Damon in “The Martian.”
‘The Martian’ excites with strong plot, acting
“The Martian”—starring Matt Damon
8.5 out of 10
By Cameron M. Bray ’16
Based off the 2011 novel of the same name, “The Martian” is both an astonishing science-fiction film and an uplifting tale of survival and endurance.
In fact, this is probably the second best film I’ve seen all year, surpassed only by the surprise hit of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
But enough praise. Let’s get to the plot.
It’s the near future.
Man has successfully set foot on Mars.
The crew of the Ares III mission to Mars has begun surveying the planet and collecting samples, when suddenly they are hit by an intense storm.
The storm is so powerful that the crew members are forced to return to ship so they can evacuate the planet and, unfortunately, suspend the mission.
During the crew’s arduous trek back to the ship, one of the crew members—Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon—is hit by debris and is lost in the darkness of the storm.
With the lives of the crew at stake, the mission commander, played by Jessica Chastain, is forced to leave the planet, leaving Watney behind, who is presumed dead.
Watney, however, is not dead.
Waking up the next day in a pile of sand, he is now forced to survive with only the supplies the Ares team left behind and to figure out a way to contact NASA for rescue.
Overall, the plot is quite unique and engaging from the start. That was definitely one of the movie’s major fortes.
I was constantly at the edge of my seat as Watney was struggling against misfortune and against the barren, lifeless planet that is Mars.
Another thing I found really enjoyable and laudable about the movie was Damon’s acting.
He plays a much more convincing scientist than, in my opinion, Matthew McConaughey did in “Interstellar,” and he does an amazing job at displaying the raw emotional weight placed upon Watney in his struggle for survival.
Damon really makes the human drama come alive throughout this story, and that’s one of the things that’s so great and inspiring about the film.Despite all this positivity for the film, I still have one major gripe with it.
Toward the end of the second act, the focus shifts too much away from the drama with Watney and Mars.
To its detriment, the film chooses to waste its valuable screen time refocusing on the boring drama involving the secondary characters on Earth, and about this time I really started to lose interest in the whole enterprise.
However, despite this one misstep, “The Martian” is still a triumph in terms of writing, acting, directing and visualization.
It’s a beautiful film—one that will certainly go down as one of the best movies of the year—and you should definitely see it.
For its strong plot and for the strong acting on Damon’s part, it gets an 8.5 out of 10.