The Martian (2015): Bring Him Home

Posted: October 31, 2015 in Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
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martianDuring a mission on Mars, a storm approaches the camp site. While the crew decides to get their team off of the planet, a stray piece of debris knocks botanist Mark Watney out and away from the spacecraft. Captain Melissa Lewis is forced to leave him behind and get the rest of the team safe. After the announcement makes it way across the globe of a deceased astronaut, Mark rises from the dirt of the red planet and begins his work to stay alive and find a way home. While it takes time for other to recognize his survival, a massive effort begins to develop to retrieve the abandoned Watney. Just when everything seems to be going right, a new curveball threatens NASA’s process to continue the mission.

Matt Damon Requires Rescue Again: While it almost appears humorous, Damon seems to have a penchant for playing characters that need saving. First, he was left behind enemy lines in WWII. Now, he is left on Mars to fend for himself. The thing about Damon as an actor on-screen, he is just so likable and presents the type of character you’d want to rally for survival. As the abandoned Mark Watney, he somehow finds a way to scavenge for tools and resources to grow his own food, lose almost all of it, and still make his way to his chance for rescue. He has the engineering knowhow to rig a communication process to stay in contact with Earth. Regardless, he takes more initiative for his survival in this one, but clearly could not do it all himself.

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Vast, Empty, but Beautiful Red Planet: While most of the adventure of the film happens on a barren planet, there was something magical and mysterious about Mark’s landscape. Mars was presented with a vivid red that looked dazzling in the sunlight and ominous in the dark. The storms that struck at the start of the film and later on left the landscape looking like the same experience of a snowstorm cleaning the land. The 3D provided a sense like you were trapped in the storm with Mark. Similarly, the view from space seemed endless and beautiful. While there was much less than in Gravity, it still provided that feeling of something greater than we can understand.

Politics Get in the Way: The film focuses mostly on the tale of survival, but it does also jump into the political landscape. There were two significant challenges that took place. The first was the issue the PR disaster NASA encountered when they discovered they left an astronaut behind alive. This was a challenge due to their previously public announcement of his demise during the storm. With Teddy Sanders being unwilling to admit to their mistakes, it made for a tough process for changing the story. His troubles continued when it came time to figure out how (and if) they could get him home. A combination of resources and time were working against them. While Mark had to create some magic on his end, there was a need to account for potential disasters. Teddy pushed the team back on Earth to skip safety procedures and avoid tipping off the team still in space about the situation until absolutely necessary. This made for some troubling communication across the teams working to get him home, but Mark ultimately moved on and adjusted to what was necessary to make his attempt.

Final Verdict: This is a film that successfully put together a realistic yet sci-fi drama and created an experience that was truly enthralling. Matt Damon was extremely likable and you were cheering for his safe return throughout the struggle. This survival story is a classic and will get some serious recognition come award season.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5

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