Movie Review: The Martian


Brennan Griffin, Features Editor

Before beginning this review I would like to take some time to mention how much I love the fact that I am able to go to the theater and see a brand new film by the legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott. The director of Alien and Blade Runner, two of my absolute favorite science fiction films of all time, as well as Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and Thelma and Louise has a brand new film out in theaters now.

The Martian is about Mark Watney, an astronaut who is left behind on a mission to Mars after he is presumed to be killed in a storm. He faces the challenge of surviving a long period of time with only supplies for a 32 day mission for six people. Watney needs to use his skills as a botanist to help him survive until he can be rescued. This story is gripping and has you rooting for Watney to make it. You feel what he is feeling in all situations. The film has you for its entire running time.

Matt Damon plays Mark Watney and he is completely fantastic as this character. This is easily the best performance from Matt Damon in years. The rest of the cast is phenomenal as well. The notable highlights are Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis and Chewitel Ejiofor as Venkat Kapoor. The entire cast all work amazingly together. One of the best things this movie does is create an established relationship between Mark Watney and the rest of his crew that you feel throughout the movie, despite the fact that they are barely on screen at the same time. Be on the watch for many surprise castings in this film as many celebrities pop up in various roles.

The CGI in this film is incredible. It was so amazingly well done and made Mars, a planet with only red rocks and sand (and now water as NASA, who helped the production of this film, revealed in close proximity to the films release) amazing and captivating. I could not tell where the set ended and the CGI backdrop began. This allows for total immersion in this film. There was one shot of the ship and while seeing it I remembered when you first saw the ship in Alien and realized how far CGI has come to looking completely real.

The science in this film is definitely noteworthy. Aside from a few minor discrepancies (Mars’ atmosphere cannot have storms) the science is well done and accurate. However it is easy to follow and understand (If you passed chemistry and have a decent understanding of physics you should have little problem following the science in this movie).


My favorite part of this film was also the part that took me by surprise the most; its humor. This film was, at many points, completely hilarious. Mark Watney is an extreme optimist and this leads to some amazing humor. He makes the complicated science easier to understand by breaking it down in humorous ways. The rest of the cast also provided many laughs but the best were undoubtedly from Matt Damon. That’s not to say the film is not at times sad and cold. There are scenes reminiscent of Alien where you are terrified and fear for Mark Watney. The film also features many pop culture references which add to the humor and realism of the film. It should be noted that The Martian features possibly my favorite Lord of the Rings reference in a movie.

The Martian is an awesome film. My only complaint is a small one and that is that a 10-20 minute section takes place without going back to Watney for a few minutes and is just a little less interesting than his scenes. I do not mind this enough to lower my enjoyment of the film. If you liked last years Interstellar then you should check out this movie. It has fantastic acting by everyone, great direction, phenomenal CGI, and is a great adaption. The Martian makes you feel like you can overcome any obstacle in your way. This film is an excellent start to the end of the year movie season and definitely a contender for best film of this year.

Rating: You will definitely want to bring The Martian home with you.