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How The Martian Made its Mark

By Derrick Ernst

Director: Ridley Scott Running Time: 141 minutes Rated: PG-13 Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi Notable Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara

“It’s a strange feeling. Everywhere I go, I’m the first.” – Mark Watney (Matt Damon)

Due to a severe dust storm, the Ares III crew is forced to abort their mission on Mars. As they make their way towards departure, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck by flying debris and presumed dead by his crewmates. However, impairment by a communications antenna plays culprit to what is not death, but injury. Mark Watney is still alive.

Stranded on a planet that does not have any notable signs of life, Mark is quick to realize that death may be inevitable. Aside from equipment malfunctions, lack of food and water are found to be his biggest challenge. Luckily, Mark is a botanist—a plant scientist. Yet, none of this matters unless he can find a way to communicate with NASA back on Earth.

A problem with films that are dominated by one character is that predictability is ever present. The Martian proves to be no different. For the duration of two-plus hours, Mark’s journey to make it home is never a matter of “will it happen,” but “how it will happen.”

Mark Watney yearns to pass the time on Mars.
Mark Watney yearns to pass the time on Mars.

Despite Ridley Scott’s attempt to incorporate the audience into the film by them playing the receiving role of Mark’s video journal entries, materiality suffers. Furthermore, many scenes possessing fixtures in the forefront of a breathtaking Mars landscape looked as though computer imagery got the best of them.

As a fan of the novel, written by Andy Weir, in which inspired the film’s creation, it was discouraging to witness many deviations. Nevertheless, Ridley Scott takes his viewers on an emotional thrill ride, alongside Mark, as he attempts to conquer the impossible. For those seeking original entertainment, The Martian will not disappoint. Anything beyond this, however, should not be expected.

Overall: three-stars