Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded and alone on Mars, in 'The Martian.' Photo: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded and alone on Mars, in ‘The Martian.’ Photo: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

By Megan Bianco

Halloween season this year starts off not with a horror film from Hollywood but a sci-fi journey called The Martian, adapted from Andy Weir’s popular book by the same name. After one of the most underwhelming Septembers in recent movie history, October brings the return of the ever-inconsistent Ridley Scott. His last hit film was 2007’s American Gangster and his last sci-fi feature was the disappointing Prometheus (2012). With The Martian, we see a reminder of a great blockbuster maker.

While exploring planet Mars, a space crew quickly moves back into space when an intense storm hits. Only fellow astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left behind—mistaken as dead—when he’s knocked unconscious by debris. When he awakens he’s left with his tiny camp, limited supplies and food as well as a web camera. Soon NASA and Watney’s team discover his whereabouts and scurry to rescue him.

Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels co-star as Watney’s colleagues. What’s remarkable about The Martian is how rapid, yet smooth, the film’s pace is. There’s no horror like Scott’s classic Alien (1979) or mystique like his Blade Runner (1982), but there are sarcastic jabs that don’t get too obnoxious and dozens of characters that work well together with a ton of chemistry. Damon and cast are stellar and keep the film grounded and not too cluttered. Not only is Scott in top form again aesthetically and narratively, but Watney’s odyssey has one of the catchiest soundtracks ever featured in a space flick.

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