Friday, October 2, 2015
In 2035, on the vast red planet, the only human presence is at an artificial habitat (Hab). The astronauts are brought in by NASA's exploration space-ship called Hermes Flight, led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). During a severe dust storm on Mars, the botanist Dr. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is injured by a broken antenna and is presumably dead. Melissa has to leave Mark behind and exit Mars with the rest of the crew: the pilot Major Rick Martinez (Michael Peña), the flight surgeon Dr. Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), the German chemist Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie), and the system operator Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara).
But Mark is still alive and all alone on the empty red planet. Even if NASA finds out that he is alive and sends another space-ship to rescue him, it's going to be four years away, and he is going to run out of food long before then. Facing the bleak circumstance, Mark not only keeps his sense of humor intact, but also is in good spirit and speaks to his video journal that he is "gonna have to science the shit out of this."
Yes, he does just that indeed! He rations remaining food; he generates water; he grows potatoes; and most importantly, he ingeniously reestablishes his communication with NASA. As soon as NASA finds out that Mark is still alive, NASA Director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) works with Mars Mission Director Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Hermes Flight Director Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) to come up a rescue mission. With the help from China's space program, an impeccably orchestrated homecoming plan is carried out to bring Mark home.
Diligently detailed and easily accessible for the mass audience, the director Ridley Scott terrifically adapts Andy Wire's best-selling novel into an entertaining film. Even though there are plenty of stunning imageries about the red planet and the beautiful space-ship in 3D, the film successfully wins us over with its engrossing narrative, likable characters, humorous tone, uplifting spirit, and scientific accuracy.
Unlike many sci-fi films involving outer space, there is no alien or evil people in this film. Everyone acts based on solid science and good-natured conscious. Their bravery and selflessness are both admirable and inspiring. That's very welcoming and refreshing for a film in the crowded sci-fi genre.
Along with many other fine actors in the film, the convincing Matt Damon gives a superb performance as the cool headed scientist. As if in a classroom, he magically shows us how he tackles one problem after another while cracking jokes about things that seem devastating. Despite the eerie situation he endures, he doesn't panic or even hardly complains, except about the commander's horrible disco music taste.