First Hit: Matt Damon is wonderful in this interesting and engaging film.
With the latest news indicating that there is water on Mars, this film will have even more interest from audiences.
I cannot speak to the science demonstrated in the film and I will say the story is compelling mostly because of the acting. We have a crew on an extended mission to Mars but because there is a huge storm, they have to leave early leaving behind one of their team.
Mission Botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) was thought to be dead when the crew led by Captain Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). NASA led by Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) decides to not tell the crew heading back to Earth that the person they left behind is still alive. The reasons he uses are valid from one point of view but, the on Earth, person responsible for the crew, Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) decides to inform the crew about Mark’s survival on Mars.
This works well as a plot device to set up an attempted rescue by this same crew later in the film. A good portion of the film is about how Mark solves the dilemma of being in a place where his food won’t last until a possible rescue mission comes back for him. He solves this problem with great verve, humor, ingenuity.
There is a bit more focus on the music he’s left with (disco era music) by Captain Lewis and it got old to me. I know it was used a clever plot device to created amusement and it wore thin. I’ve no idea if NASA works the way the film portrays but it was believable.
Besides the wonderful acting by Damon on Mars, the mixture of other characters helping to rescue him was also very good.
Damon was really strong as “the greatest botanist on the planet”. He does well at showing a positive outlook, intelligence, and fortitude to take this difficult situation and survive. Chastain was good as the mission leader, showing compassion, strength, and willingness. Daniels was very good as the no-nonsense NASA leader. Sean Bean was good in his small yet pivotal role. Donald Glover was probably the most interesting minor character. His portrayal of a certified genius able to solve the problem of identifying a rescue plan was perfect. Drew Goddard wrote a wonderful, interesting and, at times, amusing script. Ridley Scott did a great job of creating great sets (spaceship scenes were reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001) and getting some very strong performances from his actors.
Overall: Although a little long it was an enjoyable and entertaining film.