Film review: ‘The Martian’

Alex Lasher

Okay, here’s the rub: “The Martian” takes an extremely simple premise and turns it into one of the most stunning, thrilling and witty outer space movies you will see. With CGI becoming more and more prominent in films, it’s harder to be wowed by it; the CGI in “The Martian” is truly a spectacle.martian movie poster

Filmmakers are able to take a planet no one has ever stepped foot on and show it in absolutely stunning detail. We may never send a man to Mars in our lifetime, but thanks to “The Martian,” everyone will feel like they have been on its surface themselves.

Matt Damon shines as Mark Watney, the astronaut left to fend for himself on Mars. Damon does a great job of giving Watney some optimism and a refreshing, sarcastic take on it all.

Damon also has some truly powerful moments in which the reality of his situation takes its toll. Most of the film is Watney talking to himself on journal entries, so if his character didn’t work, “The Martian” wouldn’t either.

At its core, “The Martian” is a tale of the human spirit and ingenuity. Watney faces insurmountable odds; survival on a desolate planet with a hostile environment, little food with no way of growing more, and the rest of the world thinking he is dead.

Watching Watney solve each and every problem thrown at him is incredible, inspiring and even suspenseful. The way Watney uses science to get himself out of each problem was more thrilling than most summer blockbusters I’ve seen.

Once the world discovers that Watney is still alive, seeing the globe rally behind him to bring him back reminds us that we are not merely divided up nations spread out across the planet, but one species united. This theme is also addressed on a smaller scale, with Watney and his crew. After believing he had died on Mars, the crew goes through great danger and sacrifice to bring Watney back. The film also does a great job of showing the political, legal and financial ramifications NASA would face if an accident like this ever occurred.

Before this movie was released, some were already comparing it to Christopher Nolan’s 2014 space epic “Interstellar.”

I feel it is unfair to compare these two films. While both are space epics and both are excellent films, they have very different tones. “Interstellar” focuses more on the emotional reasoning behind human existence and what makes us human. It also places a much heavier emphasis on science and theory than “The Martian” does.

While an understanding of the science behind “Interstellar” is critical to understanding the plot of the movie, the same cannot be said for “The Martian.” One does not need to understand the exact science behind everything Watney is doing to get what he is trying to do, or enjoy watching his attempts at it.

The only complaint I have about “The Martian” would be the abundance of secondary characters the film asks me to care for. Kristen Wiig is severely misused as a PR representative and Donald Glover’s awkward portrayal as a scientist makes me extremely thankful he wasn’t cast as the next Spiderman.

This film is a visual masterpiece that captures the spirit of human resourcefulness and courage.

Whether you are a fan of sci-fi, great special effects or a feel-good story, I highly recommend seeing “The Martian” as soon as you can.