The Martian is a realistic space survival story that doesn’t rely on scriptwriting magic. Watney solves each problem step by step with rational plausible solutions. The movie avoids making a patriotic Deus Ex Machina and makes an effort to portray diversity and inclusivity. The smart ass sense of humor adds the needed levity.
As expected from Ridley Scott and a well-funded blockbuster, the movie does a spectacular job of showing the struggles of Watney through cinematography and compositions. The aerial shots of Mars show its beauty and barren landscape. The framing compositions of Watney tell both the privilege and problem of being the Martian – he can freely claim a bunch of firsts on the Red Planet, but that’s also because he is alone.
Matt Damon is able to carry the movie with his everyman charisma. The supporting cast does a great job as unintentional foils and shows the realities of space exploration – Teddy Sanders has to make sure it’s worth risking funding for the program and doesn’t derail current missions, Vincent Kapoor is piggybacking on the rescue so he can get more Aries missions approved, and Watney’s crewmates’ determination doesn’t magically cancel out the consequences of the rescue on their own.
The CNSA (China National Space Administration) makes an appearance, and whether that’s because of the increasing presence of China in Hollywood or not, still enforces the theme of unity as they chose to help at the risk of revealing their own classified space program.
While his journey is an engaging one, you won’t get to know much about The Martian.
The movie shows personal details about his crewmates and moments with their families but we don’t know what Mark Watney has got to lose, even a beloved cat. Sure he has parents, but we don’t even get to see one picture while he mopes around staring at a computer screen.
His survival story is endearing, but the plot suffers from telegraphing its twists.
Nonetheless, The Martian proves to be an informative crowd-pleaser. The movie manages to balance logic with entertainment while highlighting an uplifting message without being mawkish.
The Martian is an engaging tribute to human ingenuity.
The Martian is an uplifting tribute to human ingenuity, thanks to an engaging space survival story and endearing performance by Matt Damon.