‘The Martian’ hits the mark

By Joe Matthews, Staff Writer

With the finding of liquid water on Mars just a few days prior, “The Martian” couldn’t have asked for a better release date. Based on the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir, the movie tells the story of Mark Watney, a man presumed dead and consequently stranded 140 million miles away from home.

Set in the near future, Watney, played by Matt Damon, was abandoned on Mars when his research team was blindsided by a storm and forced to evacuate. Struck by debris while trying to board the shuttle Watney was lost, his life-signs were down and the crew was forced to leave him behind.

Regaining consciousness, he woke up alone on the red planet and wandered back to the small base camp left from his mission. Determined to stay alive, Watney, luckily a former botanist, developed a potato farm on the base and desperately tried to contact NASA.

Seeing that Watney was alive, NASA set out to do all it could to bring him home safely. Finding out their crewmate had survived stunned the homebound astronauts as they wanted to help bring him home. Going against their commands, the team set out on a do-or-die mission back to Mars to save Watney.

Though most of the movie revolves around a man alone on desolate planet, Damon’s performance as Watney never left viewers with that stranded feeling. Like a cheerful version of “Cast Away”, “The Martian” captured the isolation, but also brought out the humor and optimism of being the only person on a planet.

“I am the greatest botanist on this planet!” Watney proclaimed at one point.

There was even a point when Watney joked about laws that technically made him a space pirate.

The comedy lightened the mood, helping the viewer relax and seemingly helping Watney remain sane. Finding the silver lining in a seemingly dire situation, Watney was able to brighten the moods of even his apprehensive crewmates.

Though comedic at times, this is still a movie full of drama and suspense. From making bombs in a space shuttle to launching into space with a shuttle held together by duct-tape, “The Martian” never ceased to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

With stellar performances by Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain and Kate Mara the movie kept viewers enthralled throughout.

At two and half hours, the movie seemed to fly by — ironic considering the entirety of the journey took the astronauts close to five years.

“The Martian” showed how easy it is to take advantage of Earth; inhabiting billions of people, animals and plant life, Earth is a miracle. On Mars, there has never been a tree, a plant or any living thing that we are aware of. With the struggles we see Watney going through trying to survive, it makes us appreciate our home planet.

With a solid cast and phenomenal acting, “The Martian” was an overall stellar movie. It let us know there is always hope, to always look at the bright side and to laugh at our misfortunes. As Watney proves, it might help you survive — even on Mars.