Studio: 20th Century Fox (2 hr. 14 min.)
Plot: An astronaut presumed dead on Mars struggles to survive as he finds a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig Donald Glover
Bottom Line: **1/2
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
The film, which is best described as “Castaway” meets “Gravity”, revolves around a mission to save an astronaut (Matt Damon), who has been left behind on Mars.
Based on a best-selling novel of the same name, the story begins in Mars and follows several astronauts on the planet conducting an experiment. When a storm hits, the crew are forced back to Earth leaving Damon’s character Mark Watney behind who is presumed dead after being struck by debris.
Fortunately, Watney is still alive and the rest of the movie circles around his ongoing attempts to survive long enough to be rescued. As well as being an astronaut, he’s also a botanist, which comes in handy when he figures out how to grow potatoes on Mars using fecal matter for bacteria.
Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character, Dr. Vincent Kapoor, is the man with a mission who is tasked with bringing him back to Earth in this Ridley Scott directed film.
Glowering when needed but sympathetic to Watney’s plight (we’ve all had the feeling of being alone in the world), Ejiofor’s character is dedicated to bringing Watney back from Mars and will let nothing deter him from that mission.
A survival and rescue adventure flick which is fairly entertaining, it’s easy to root for Damon’s character who is perfectly cast as Watney. Despite facing death, which, he says could come through several scenarios, “one of course which includes starvation,” he’s upbeat and humorous throughout as he records his daily vlogs detailing his ongoing fight for survival.
Engaging and entertaining enough, “The Martian” clocks in at 2 hr. 14 minutes long and is filled with so much scientific jargon you would need to be a layman in physics to understand some of the language. We also learn a lot about Mars in this film. An unwelcoming planet, its wide temperatures range – from -153°C to around 22°C on a summer day and the air is 95 percent carbon dioxide which makes breathing problematic. The soil lacks bacteria needed to grow food and water exists, but only as ice. Certainly fascinating stuff.
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This column was printed in the November 15, 2015 - November 28, 2015 edition.