“ Hi, I’m Mark Watney and I’m still alive…obviously”
As a kid I used to watch “Home Alone” and think of the fun I would have had if I were the one who was left, ya’ know. While being left alone at home might sound like a good idea, being left alone on Mars, sounds like something that would not be in the realm of good times. Sure if you liked to be alone it would be good, that is until you ran out of food or air or any of those other things that help you stay alive.
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is part of the Ares 3 mission to explore Mars. Everything takes a turn for the worse when a storm forces the team to evacuate. While attempting to do so, Mark is hit with some debris and is presumed dead by the rest of the team, as Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) orders the crew to leave. Mark though has some luck on his side and survives the hit only to awake to find himself stranded. After some medical attention, Mark starts to work on a plan that will extend his life expectancy on Mars. Meanwhile back on Earth, everyone assumes Mark is dead, and starts to plan for the next missions, all that changes when satellite images pick up movement at the Ares 3 site, and everyone realizes Mark survived. While Mark must find one way after another to stay alive, NASA must find a way to rescue him, as the clock ticks for both of them.
When it comes to NASA, Mars is a destination that everyone wants to see happen, but as a studio, going to Mars has not been a pleasant experience. While not every story has been bad, the box office totals have not been friendly. So why go back, well because we were once told to “Get our ass to Mars”, do we need more reason then that? Based on the book by Andy Weir, “The Martian” is an experience both in print and on the screen. While Weir provided the story, Drew Goddard ( The Cabin in the Woods) handles the screenplay, with the great Ridley Scott directing. Now the later might not sound like the best thing, based on recent work, but Scott is back in form for this one. With a great story, all it would need is the cast to put it together to make everything perfect, and with Matt Damon as Watney, they nailed that. It’s hard to see anyone else in that role, as Damon is everything the character is and then some.
While it would have been easy to rest after a leading man like him, the rest of the cast turns out to be as perfect as Damon in their given roles. Space has been called the final frontier, but the lure of space has declined over the years. Last year’s “Interstellar” tried to remind us that we used to look at the stars and wonder at our place, and with “The Martian” it takes that torch and reminds us that we should keep that wonder. As a fan of the book, I was looking forward to this film, and it did not let me down. With very few changes from the novel, and the stellar cast, this is one trip to Mars you will be glad you took.