by Elna Mcintosh
Adapted by Ridley Scott from Andy Weir’s bestseller, The Martian is the (relatively) simple story of a man stuck on Mars after his team leaves him behind. Forced to abandon their mission early due to a massive dust storm and believing Mark Watney (Matt Damon) to be dead, the NASA team attempts to bring him home.
There’s plenty of focus on NASA’s rescue attempts, but The Martian really is Matt Damon’s film (who snagged a well-deserved best actor nomination): the movie’s focus is on Watney narrating daily Martian life to a webcam and mugging for Pathfinder, NASA’s retired Martian probe that serves as his initial link to Earth. Damon is utterly believable as a smart-ass astronaut struggling to survive in spite of everything Mars throws at him.
The Martian is the rare sci-fi film that succeeds in making science both accessible and fun — Watney’s effort to grow potatoes for survival is one of the more riveting sub-plots within the film.
While watching The Martian is an enjoyable way to spend about two-and-a-half hours, it’s not going to win best picture. Compared with the competition, The Martian is a featherweight in a roomful of dramatic heavy hitters. While Damon has a chance at best actor, Scott will have to try again next year.