Running Time: 142 mins.
Premise: When a freak storm separates him from his crew, Astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded on Mars. While NASA and his crew work to rescue him, Watney must "science the shit" out of his situation in order to survive until then.
Behind-the-Scenes: Based on the bestseller by Andy Weir. Screenwriter Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) was originally going to direct, but had to drop out due to other commitments, so Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Blade Runner) stepped in after hitting it off with Damon, who had already been cast. This is the second stranded astronaut role in less than a year for Damon: Interstellar is the other.
The Good: This is a pitch-perfect adaptation of the book. It expertly balances laughs with thrills. It's inspiring and humanistic, and presents a feel-good story that never dips into gushy sentiment. It's a refreshing change of pace for Ridley Scott, whose films are usually so mechanical and cold. Audiences are going to eat it up - the movie is a real crowd-pleaser in every sense of the word. Damon is perfect in a role that almost seems tailor made for him, and will surely be nominated for Best Actor. The supporting cast is equally impressive, with big stars and familiar faces in even the smallest roles. It's nice to have a science fiction movie where actual science is glorified and takes center stage. Mars is realistically rendered, and even better in 3D - with all sorts of particles, dirt and dust floating in front of you.
The Bad: Jessica Chastain's character really does have bad taste in music.
Should You See It?: Yes. The Martian has a legitimate shot at becoming the consensus pick for Best Picture this year. I can't imagine anyone not liking it.
Star Rating: ***** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: John Carter, Mission to Mars, Interstellar
As Good As: Gravity
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