Ridley Scott’s The Martian is an accurate, thrilling survival story that for ONCE portrays scientists as normal human beings (even cool, likable ones!), instead of amoral villains, sociopaths, socially crippled nerds, or emotionless robots.
Problem solving is the hero of this edge-of-your-seat thriller, and realism is king. I don’t have degree in any of the many fields of science featured in the story, but I have seen a lot of sci fi movies, and the usual Hollywood nonsense for the sake of drama was nowhere to be found. The laws of physics are followed, meaning communication takes time. Travel takes time too, it takes MONTHS to get to Mars, and this is not glossed over but is a major factor in the plot. The precision and timing of orbits and their effect on launches is taken into account as well.
Not only is the science great, but the acting and the excitement is right there as well. You might worry, hearing how accurate everything is, that the actual story and characters would suffer. Well, they don’t. I will admit that the Watney character’s quirkey sarcasm is a bit groan worthy at times, but that matches well with the character of the book–and what should we expect from a NASA botanist, anyway?
Damon’s performance is really good, considering he rarely interacts with anyone else in the film, and has to do a lot of monologues which could have easily gone awkward. The others are great as well, a really strong cast of well built characters, which it is clear some time went into creating even though they weren’t the focus of the movie.
The space scenes looked amazing, on a level with Gravity, and the Martian landscape was perfect. Just the right level of otherworldly meshed with the familiar red dunes and rocks that we all know.
This is not your regular action movie. There are no villains besides nature, and there is a lot of science and not much traditional action until the very end. But if you are a fan of hard sci fi, or realism, or just good, thoughtful action movies, you definitely have to give this one a shot.
This is close to being my favorite movie I’ve seen this year, but I think Mad Max still beats it out by a hair.
Check it out!