By Kyle Hansen
Ever wondered what life is like on another planet? Good news! This year’s outer space film, The Martian, will take you on an adventure to the Red Planet, also known as Mars. Starring Matt Damon as astronaut and botanist Mark Watney, The Martian is a survival story with wit, charm, and a whole lot of Mars.
The movie begins with Mark Watney (Damon) and his crew working on Mars when a large storm hits their landing spot. Watney is struck by a satellite and is presumed dead by the rest of his team. They leave Mars, and Watney is forced to make ends meet and survive his current situation of alienation.
The audience follows Watney on his journey to survive the emptiness that is Mars. With beautiful landscape views, the audience is given multiple moments to think about what life is like approximately 35 million miles away from home. How can a place this beautiful be so dangerous to us humans?
Damon’s character never gives us any indication that he is a man who gives up easily. From his first moment staring into the camera and explaining his situation, you see the wheels turning in his head as he plans his survival. He keeps his good humor, and the camera he speaks into serves as his Wilson. His video logs keep him sane as he lives alone on Mars for almost two years.
Directed by Ridley Scott, The Martian includes an all-star supporting cast behind Damon. Damon‘s crew includes Interstellar star Jessica Chastain as the captain, with Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Aksel Hennie rounding out the group.
Back home on Earth, NASA and organizations around the world are working to bring Watney back. The cast becomes even stronger, yet more diverse. The Newsroom star Jeff Daniels plays a very direct Teddy Sanders, the director of NASA. Surrounding him, are 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays an expert on Mars, rapper Donald Glover who creates the plan to bring Watney home, and Sean Bean who puts the plan into action. (Side note: Halfway through the movie, the characters make a Lord of the Rings reference with Sean Bean in the room and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t geek out at all.) Together, this ensemble creates a group of characters who drive the film home.
With a witty protagonist, The Martian draws the crowd in immediately. Watney’s ability to survive and adapt are fascinating to observe, as well as watching those around him scramble to bring him back. Scott successfully pieces together a story that is interesting and fresh from beginning to end.
The Martian is a film about human perseverance. Watney could not be left in a more dire situation, yet he is determined to survive, and he brings the audience along for the ride.