There is a running joke among my friends that I never buy/watch “good” movies, which is funny but not entirely true. The joke was made due to my love for B-movies (and some lower grade ones) and my tendency to buy such movies. My reasoning was always that everyone buys the big blockbusters and famous movies but the lower budget movies need love too, especially since I want them to continue being made. So anytime I buy one of the “good” movies, my friends get confused as to why I own it. Today’s movie will definitely have them scratching their heads as I review a fairly recent purchase, The Martian.
The plot: The Ares III manned mission to Mars is on the 18th day of their mission when a strong dust storm forces them to scrub the mission. As they are making their way to the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle), a piece of debris is thrown by the storm and hits astronaut Mark Watney, sending him flying from the group. Not picking up any signs of life from Mark’s suit, Melissa Lewis, the mission commander, sends the rest of the crew to the MAV while she tries to locate Mark’s body but as the storm grows worse and threatens the ship’s stability, she is forced to give up the search and they blast off from the surface, leaving Mark behind. On Earth, a press conference is held where Teddy Sanders, NASA’s Administrator, announces that the astronauts have returned to their ship, Hermes, and are on their way back to Earth, but that Mark was killed during the storm. On Mars, Mark regains consciousness and finds that a piece of the debris had punctured his suit and wounded him but the blood clotted around the wound and kept him from dying of decompression. Making his way back to the HAB (the mission’s living quarters), Mark treats his injury, then starts recording a log, where he lists what his options are and what he must do to try and survive. After going through all the food supplies, Mark figures he has enough food for 300 sols (days) but figures he might be able to ration it out to 400, but must still come up with a way to grow enough food for 3 more years. Putting his botany skills to use, Mark transforms the kitchen area of the HAB into a greenhouse, using recycled waste from all of the astronauts as fertilizer for the martian soil and extracting hydrogen from leftover rocket fuel and using a fire to oxidize it in order to make water. Mark plants some potatoes that were saved for Thanksgiving and after two weeks, he notices that the plants have started to grow. On Earth, Vincent Kapoor, the Mars mission director, speaks with Sanders to try and finance a 6th Ares mission in order to go to retrieve Mark’s body, but Sanders is reluctant to try. Meanwhile, Mindy Park, a satellite planner for NASA is given some coordinates to check and sees that it is the HAB. When she notices that some items have been moved since the day the astronauts left, she realizes that Mark is still alive and reports the news to Vincent and Sanders. Along with the NASA’s head of media relations, the two men look at Mindy’s findings and try to figure out what they are going to do but Sanders says not to tell the rest of the Ares III crew, as he doesn’t want them to get distracted. Back on Mars, Mark knows that the next Ares mission to Mars will be in 4 years but the landing site is 3200 kilometers away and the Rover that was brought on the mission only has a battery life good for 35 kilometers before it needs to be recharged at the HAB and the site is a 50 day journey. Mark figures out a way to increase his battery life but he can’t use the heater, which would mean he would freeze to death at night so he digs up the radioactive material used for the flight to Mars and insulates it so he won’t be exposed to the lethal radiation but is still able to use the power source as heat, making it possible for him to survive. On Earth, Sanders and the rest of NASA are trying to figure out ways to help Mark survive and Sanders authorizes a probe to be sent to resupply Mark to better his chances while Mitch Henderson, the Hermes flight director, still expresses misgivings about not informing the rest of the Ares III crew that Mark is still alive. On Mars, Mark comes up with a way to communicate with NASA by heading to the sight of the Pathfinder, an unmanned probe that was sent to Mars but fell silent in 1997. Mark finds the probe and brings it back to the HAB, where he is able to get it working. On Earth, Vincent figured out Mark’s plan and heads to JPL (Jet Propulsion Labratory) to speak with Bruce Ng (JPL’s director) and the rest of the men that worked on Pathfinder. Mark is able to establish contact with the Pathfinder demo model on Earth and using it, Nasa is able to communicate with him, then tell him how to link Pathfinder to the Rover so that they can communicate via text. Mark is happy to hear that NASA is working on a way to help keep him alive but when he learns that they haven’t told the rest of the crew that he is alive, he is furious. Sanders finally relents and Henderson sends a video file to the Ares III crew, telling them that Mark is alive and they were deliberately not informed for 2 months. On Earth, the plans to have a resupply probe sent up are on track but Mitch says they will be cutting it close as to when they project Mark’s food will run out. On Mars, Mark is securing the hatch for the night when the door malfunctions and explodes, causing the HAB to depressurize and ruining Mark’s crops. When they learn of this, Sanders tells Bruce that they will have to step up the timetable to get the supply probe to Mark. Mark is able to make a makeshift door so that he can continue living in the HAB, but he still must try and stretch out his rations to last even longer. Sanders rushes the probe’s launch, choosing to ignore the safety checks in order to speed up the launch, but when the probe launches, it ends up exploding shortly after launch. Hearing about what happened, CNSA (China National Space Administration) reaches out to NASA and offers the use of their classified booster engine, the Taiyang Shen, to help send a resupply probe to Mars. However, Rich Purnell, an astrophysicists for JPL, tells Vincent that he has worked out a way to rescue Mark by having the Hermes slingshot around the Earth to help boost it towards Mars and using the Taiyang Shen to resupply them for an extended time in space. Sanders decides not to risk the returning astronauts lives on the maneuver but Henderson secretly sends the details of the maneuver to the Hermes‘ crew. On board, Melissa tells the other astronauts what the plan entails and the consequences should the choose to disobey NASA but the crew all votes to try and save Mark. When the Hermes begins the slingshot, Sanders is forced to use the Taiyang Shen to resupply the Hermes for the trip back to Mars. Meanwhile, scientist and engineers work with Mark to help him modify the Rover to carry all the equipment he will need to survive while making the journey to where the MAV is located for the Ares IV mission. After 461 days on Mars, Mark loads up the last of his supplies and makes his way to the MAV. As he nears the MAV, Bruce and Mitch explain to Vincent that in order to get the plan to work, they will need to have Mark remove all of the computer equipment, as well as the nose cone of the ship, in order to make the shift light enough to reach escape velocity in order to reach the Hermes, while on the ship, Melissa and the rest of the crew work out the plan to retrieve Mark. On Earth, crowds gather around every major city to watch as the mission to retrieve Mark commences. When the time comes, the MAV is remotely launched and Mark ends up passing out due to the G-forces but the MAV ends up falling short of the necessary altitude. Melissa has the Hermes adjust course to match the altitude, but they end up going faster than would be able to safely grab Mark. Mark regains consciousness and after hearing the problem, he offers to puncture his suit to help get him to the ship but Melissa decides to use the idea to blow one of the airlocks on the Hermes to slow them down. Doing this does succeed in slowing them down, but they are still to far away to grab Mark so he goes ahead and punctures the glove on his suit and uses the released air pressure to propel himself towards the Hermes, where Melissa is able to grab him and bring him on board the ship, to the cheers from the rest of the crew as well as everyone on Earth. Returning to Earth, Mark ends up teaching a survival course for future astronauts and 5 years later, the Ares V mission is successfully launched into space.
The Martian was highly praised by the critics, earning a critically fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is ” Smart, thrilling, and surprisingly funny, The Martian offers a faithful adaptation of the bestselling book that brings out the best in leading man Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott.” The movie was projected to earn $172 million in the US but would wind up earning over $228 million in the US, and over $620 million worldwide, making it a box office success. The movie has been nominated for 7 Academy Awards. including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
This is a fantastic movie to watch. Matt Damon was great in this role, especially when he would go back and forth from being serious when facing the problems at hand, to more light -hearted and comical, in order to keep his spirits up and not fall into depression. All of the other characters were also good in their roles but this movie mainly focused on Damon and he held up to the pressure. The story was really good and I am sure it helped increase the sales for the book the movie was based on. The special effects were good and for the most part, the science was entirely plausible, with one or two exceptions. All in all, this is definitely one of the must see movies from 2015.
Rating: 5 out of 5