The Martian

WRITTEN BY: Drew Goddard
DIRECTED BY: Ridley Scott
STARRING: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig
RATING 4 stars

When a wild storm hits Mars during a NASA mission, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck by debris and presumed dead by his crew mates who leave him behind. But Watney survives and wakes up later to find himself stranded alone on the planet. Using the few supplies he has, Watney must find a way to stay alive long enough to contact NASA and get rescued.

Based on Andy Weir's novel, The Martian is thrilling and fun. Writer Drew Goddard and director Ridley Scott have certainly tried to make the film as scientifically accurate as possible, but space geeks are still sure to find holes in the plot and be critical of technical aspects of the story. Everyone else should still be able to enjoy the adventure, especially as Watney pulls some MacGyver-like stunts to scrape through. Despite the obvious fear and desperation that would surely come over an astronaut stuck on a planet, the film never deviates into melodrama. Watney is a smart, resourceful and witty man who would rather use his skills instead of dwelling on his predicament. The film is also very funny with Damon given some great one-liners that never cross into lame territory.

While most of the film takes place on Mars, there is also a lot happening back on Earth with the NASA team played by the very talented Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig and others, working to find a way to reach Watney before he runs out of food. Remember, space travel can take years, not months. The impressive cast also includes Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Michael Pena as Watney's crew mates eager to rescue him, as well as Sean Bean as their team leader and Donald Glover in a small but pivotal role as an astrophysicist.

Perhaps the film's weakest aspect is that it is a little long and drags in a few places. Nonetheless, The Martian looks fantastic in 3D and is worth seeing on the big screen.