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Movie Review: The Martian
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon

The Martian
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenwriter: Drew Goddard
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor
20th Century Fox
Rated PG-13 | 141 Minutes
Release Date: October 2, 2015

“It is good to renew one’s wonder, said the philosopher. Space travel has again made children of us all.” – Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

A classic work of twentieth-century literature, 1950’s The Martian Chronicles documents the exploration and colonization of Mars by humans fleeing an unstable Earth. Sixty-five years later, we’re still trying to reach the red planet.

Of course, there have been countless cinematic explorations of Mars: The Angry Red Planet, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Total Recall, Mission to Mars, John Carter – and who could forget Mars Needs Women and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians? And while fantastical these films may be, none of them have transported me to Mars in a way that felt truly and undeniably real.

Enter The Martian. Written by Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods) and directed by Ridley Scott (Exodus: Gods and Kings), The Martian is based on Andy Weir‘s 2011 novel of the same name. It is the harrowing story of the first human to colonize Mars, NASA astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon.

A botanist and mechanical engineer, Watney is impaled by an antenna during an intense dust storm on Mars and presumed dead by his fellow explorers. The Ares 3 crew, led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), is forced to evacuate before their vessel is irrevocably damaged, leaving the injured-but-alive astronaut behind.

With no way to contact Earth, Watney must rely on his scientific and technical skills to survive, growing crops in the crew’s Martian habitat and burning hydrazine to create water. As Watney fights to survive the planet’s inhospitable conditions, NASA discovers that the astronaut is still alive when satellite images show evidence of his movements.

After finding a way to communicate with the stranded astronaut, NASA officials (Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor), and the Ares 3 Crew (Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie) must find a way to rescue Watney before he runs out of food, water, and oxygen.

Like its protagonist, The Martian is intelligent, innovative, and surprisingly funny. Breathtaking, exhilarating, and emotionally resonant, Ridley Scott’s film delivers on the promises of recent science-fiction films like Gravity, Interstellar, and Scott’s own Prometheus.

A film with a tremendous amount of heart, The Martian is a tribute to the human spirit – a film about our ability to survive in the face of impossible odds, 140 million miles away from home. It’s a mix of Apollo 13 and Castaway, with the jaw-dropping visuals the director of Alien and Blade Runner is known for.

Weir’s novel is brought to life with a well-crafted script by Goddard and some great performances from Damon, Chastain, Ejiofor and the rest of this impressive ensemble. No doubt Scott’s best film in 15 years, The Martian is something of a miracle. A hopeful, luminous look to the stars; space travel has again made children of us all.

Trailer

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