**The following is an in-depth review of “The Martian” and does contain spoilers.**
Matt Damon is known for many things. Chief among them is that he generally makes movies with a left-wing parable about one thing or another. His latest film, "The Martian," is quite refreshing in that it in no way, shape or form appears to be pushing any sort of ideological agenda.
It is simply a good story told very well.
Directed by science fiction movie legend Ridley Scott - best known for the original "Alien" film and its prequel "Prometheus" - "The Martian" tells the story of one of humanity's earliest manned missions to Mars, and the perils that will always be inherent in space exploration.
The movie starring Matt Damon was based on the Andy Weir book.
Ares III, the third mission to the red planet, is forced to cut short their mission and abandon the planet when a storm hits much more severely than they were expecting to. During the storm, team botonist Mark Watney is struck by debris and thought to have been killed. With a search mission out of the question, the team commander gives the order to evacuate, leaving Watney behind. Watney, however, is still very much alive.
Watney awakens after the storm blows over, in shock from the injury he sustained. He manages to make it back to the mission's base station and dress his wound in the medical lab. Unfortunately, he is not able to get a message to his ship or to NASA to let them know he's alive.
Watney soon begins to problem solve in order to stay alive all alone for the four years it is estimated to take for the next mission to make it to Mars. He cultivates a potato garden and converts his battery-powered rover vehicle to nuclear-powered. He even digs up the Mars Pathfinder and modifies it for limited communication with Mission Control.
"The Martian" was based on a novel of the same name, first self-published in 2011 by author Andy Weir. As the film was based on a novel, it has a very literary feel to it, while making full use of the cinematic format. It also bears a strong resemblance to another movie, 2000's "Mission to Mars." The biggest element that differentiates "Mission to Mars" from this film is that the former concentrated more on the rescue mission, while "The Martian" is more centered on the stranded astronaut.
The story unfolds over the course of almost two years, which is the time it takes the Ares III return vehicle, the Hermes, to turn around and come back for him once NASA informs them that their shipmate is still alive and stranded. The use of a ship's video log allows for much exposition and draws back to the hand typed mission log format of the novel's first person narrative.
The film's dialogue is completely natural, and Damon especially delivers it with a very sincere performance. Never once during the film does the audience question its authenticity. If ever there was a prime example to point young actors to on how to "act like you aren't acting," it's definitely Damon's performance in this film.
Andy Weir originally marketed the novel as being "'Apollo 13' meets "Cast Away,'" and it really does come across that way. Many of the things in the film call back to "Apollo 13," and the film maintains much of the same humor "Cast Away" had, which helps to distract the audience from how horrific it really would be to find yourself marooned on a deserted island - or another planet!
Overall, "The Martian" is a delightfully funny and entertaining film, while still managing to tell an engaging and relevant science fiction story that grabs the audience from the very beginning and doesn't let go until the credits roll. Matt Damon is fantastic in the film and readers shouldn't allow their dislike for the star's politics to keep them from seeing this wonderful movie.
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