Though I haven’t yet determined whether I think that the movie The Martian is the best flick I’ve ever seen (Blade Runner, also a Ridley Scott production, being my long time fave; Prometheus was his previous film), it is certainly the most involving because of its strong emotional component and its geeky appeal.
The movie’s Robinson Caruso in Space theme certainly isn’t new, but in Scott’s masterful hands, it makes the audience really care about what happens to its lead character (played by Matthew Damon). And the rescue effort launched to save him after he mistakenly gets left behind by his captain (Jessica Chastain) becomes a transcendent, world-wide effort that shows humanity’s better side. (Social critics will bemoan the fact that so much money was spent trying to save one individual when, you know, it could have been better spent on giving, say, the top 1% another tax break. /snark)
Mercifully, there is none of Hollywood’s usual conspiratorial government subplots; no melodramatic personal relationship lines; no Alien monsters stalking terrified humans; no speculative time-travel, multi-universe sci-fi gimmicks— just a linear plot that has Damon’s character figuring out how to survive (eventually with the help of the smartest minds at NASA, JPL, and even the China Space Agency). Or as he says before contact is restored with earth: “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.”
Because of the mission’s limited provisions, Damon, the crew’s designated botanist, has to learn to grow food where no food has grown before (using his own poo as fertilizer); and to produce water where there is none. His challenges are compounded by the fact that the only music on board to listen to is the captain’s ’80s disco collection…
All and all a thoroughly enjoyable (and informative) movie. It’s the only film I’ve sat through the entire credits for in quite a while… which took quite a while since at the at the very end there is a little factoid projected on the screen stating that some 15,000 people were involved in its production.
Run— don’t walk to see it.