By Samantha Johnson
Imagine you are stuck on a desolate planet all alone, with nothing but your brains and brawn to save you. You’ve been abandoned by your team and have to race against time and the elements to get back home, but there’s just one problem: you’re on a foreign planet, with no way of communicating with Earth. Lucky for you, “The Martian” is just a movie, and if this sounds like something you would want to see, this is the film for you.
“The Martian” was inspired by the book of the same name written by Andy Weir, and is the perfect movie to watch right before midterms. While you’re wallowing in your grief over studying, you can at least thank your lucky stars you’re not stuck on Mars.
Matt Damon plays the unfortunate astronaut and botanist Mark Watney, who becomes stranded on Mars after he is struck by debris and knocked unconscious during a storm that threatens the team’s chances of escaping. The team believes that Watney is dead and is forced to leave him behind before they too become stranded on the unforgiving planet. Watney wakes up later to find he is alone and has to figure out how to survive on limited resources until the next planned mission to Mars, or how to contact NASA using leftover technology.
The largest highlight from “The Martian” is the suspense. Throughout the film, there is always a constant underlying theme of life or death. At any moment the Watney could die. Watney’s complete isolation is enough to frighten even the most antisocial person, and the magnitude of his situation is unfathomable. In the film, the slightest miscalculation in his work could cause malfunctions in his equipment, or the tiniest breach in his suit or base camp could kill him, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat the entire time.
Although the movie is a nail biter, there are comedic elements that lighten the mood, such as the ongoing joke of the former commander’s playlist, which is nothing but disco music, or Watney proclaiming himself as the space pirate “Captain Blondbeard.” These puns add personality to the film that would otherwise render it gloomy, depressing and hopeless in the light of his situation.
“The Martian’s” biggest downside is the preview, which give away the ending. So if you don’t want spoilers, don’t watch them before seeing the movie.
Another complaint from fans would be simply the unbelievable circumstances the character is often thrust into. Some of the events in the movie seem too crazy to work out in real life. Some could argue this enhances the suspense, but others are saying it just couldn’t happen and is therefore unrealistic. Such complaints aren’t entirely unfounded. According to Weir, there are scientific inaccuracies in the film.
“I was sitting around thinking about how a manned mission to Mars could actually work using today’s technology,” Weir told NPR in an interview “The biggest inaccuracy in the movie … is the sandstorm that strands him there. In reality, Mars’ atmosphere is 1/200th the density of Earth’s. So while they do get 150 km/hr sandstorms, the inertia behind them — because their air is so thin — it would feel like a gentle breeze on Earth.”
Either way, if you want to find out for yourself, “The Martian” is currently showing in theaters and is anticipated to be released on DVD around Jan. 2016, according to www.dvdreleasedates.com.
Samantha Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SamRayJohnson