The Martian

Film:  The Martian

Rating:  5 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    NASA launched Ares III, a manned space craft that successfully landed on Mars.  The crew was scheduled to stay for two months to perform scientific experiments before heading back on the long return voyage to Earth.  But with almost no warning, a dangerous dust storm blew across the Martian surface endangering the safety of the crew, and threatened to topple the space capsule that would return the crew back into space.  All but one crew member, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), made it back to the capsule.  With the safety of the crew at risk, the commander, Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), certain that Watney was dead, reluctantly gave the order to abort the rest of the mission and return to earth.

Thus begins the saga of Mark Watney, lone inhabitant of an entire planet, aka the Martian.  He does have a shelter left behind by his crew, and provisions for about 60 days.  He has no way to contact Hermes, the recently departed space craft, or even NASA back on earth.  The next planned mission to Mars, Ares IV, is not scheduled to arrive for another four years.  Watney has his astronaut training to rely on, he is a botanist by trade, and has a strong will to survive.  But is that going to be enough for Watney to stay alive?  As he assesses his situation, he concludes:  “I’m left with one option.  I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.”

It is just as well that Mark knows nothing of what is happening on Earth.  NASA director Teddy Sanders has announce the tragic death of Mark Watney to the world, and memorial services are held.  NASA goes back to planning their next launch four years down the road, and the crew of the Hermes settles into a routine as they while away the days on the long journey back home.  And the Martian begins to work and make plans….

This film is an amazing story, and I don’t give movies the Full Monty (5 stars) for nothing.  The story is based on a novel by Andy Weir, and both the novel and film director Ridley Scott had major assistance from NASA to get the science right.  The picture has plenty of thrills for action fans, and one heck of a story line.  Matt Damon carries this movie on his back, but gets plenty of help from great actors such as Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  It is a bit early in the Oscar season, but count on this film being a lock for a Best Picture nomination.  Do yourself a favor and go see this film.  The two hours and 21 minutes will fly by before you know it.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Hermes pilot – “Commander, I need you to verbally tell me to launch!”

Watney (to himself) – “I’m sorry, Martinez.  If you didn’t want me to go through your stuff, you shouldn’t have left me for dead on this planet.”

Sanders – “Congress won’t authorize us for a paperclip if we put a picture of a dead astronaut on the Washington Post.”

Watney – “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I am the greatest botanist on Mars.”

Watney – “Basically, I colonized Mars.  In your face, Neil Armstrong!”

Watney – “Truth is, to stretch the rations four more days is a real dick punch.”

Kapoor – “You want to send him up into space under a tarp?”

I’m A Believer:  I have always heard duct tape can fix anything.  Now I believe it….

Favorite Scene:  Mark Watney tear-assing over the surface of Mars in a Rover grooving to the sounds of Donna Summers singing Hot Stuff on his tape deck.  Awesome.




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