The Martian – a review


“So, that means he’ll make it.”
“Unless something goes wrong…”

Yes, it’s that kind of movie. The short summary: Matt Damon – ‘Mark Watney’ is part of a manned mission to Mars set in the near future. In an emergency situation his team mates leave him behind, assuming him dead, as they scramble to escape the planet. He awakes alone, injured and with only a temporary shelter to live in, with enough food to last a few months. He knows however, that it will be about two years until the next mission to Mars arrives to save him.

Curiously, he has no way to communicate with Earth, even though moments before the opening gambit we have seen his team mates communicate with NASA. But, this plot device is used to create a bit of extra tension for both Mark and the folks back home.

There’s the central predicament of the movie: how will Mark survive until he can be rescued or until emergency supplies can reach him?

At this point, let me be straightforward: I didn’t like the movie. To me, it felt very paint by numbers. The absolute low point was the (paraphrased) quote above. The NASA people are discussing Mark’s survival odds and doing the math. They arrive at the conclusion that he’ll make it. The NASA director makes the obvious observation: unless something bad happens. And, lo and behold, in the very next shot, another random bit of disaster strikes our poor suffering Mark. The movie features a lot of cheering successes and fist pumping brouhaha which mostly felt out of place to me. Mark’s psychological developement doesn’t match what he’s actually going through to me. He’s a hero, squared.

And I’m sorry, but after ‘Newsroom’, you just can’t cast Jeff Daniels in a straight role anymore….he will always be anchorman Will McAvoy.

My conclusion: if you want to be kept on the edge of your seat in a NASA adventure, watch Apollo 13 (1995).