Movie review: ‘The Martian’ is a fantastic sci-fi drama

In the near future, humans have reached Mars and are exploring it. That’s where “The Martian,” this simple, yet spectacular, movie starts. Mars. Where a six-man team is digging up and exploring the red planet. When a storm hits, they decide to evacuate the planet and head home.

Dirt and strong winds make it hard to see, so when Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets hit by some debris and they can’t find him, they think he’s dead. But we all know he isn’t.

So now he has to survive on a planet where nothing grows and help is millions of miles away. So Mark, in his own words, starts “sciencing the s— out of this place.”

This movie had the potential to be an absolute bore: one guy on a desolate planet, trying to survive till help comes. But Damon’s awesome performance and a great script kept this very long – 140 minutes — movie going right until the end.

I loved it. It’s funny when it needs to be, tense when it needs to be, and sometimes both of those at once. This movie wouldn’t work without Damon. Throughout it all, he tries his best to keep a cool head. You can see when the cracks start to show, and when he has a breakthrough. He logs video diaries, so it seems at times that he’s talking to you – and this keeps you invested in the story.

The rest of this huge cast is great, too: Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, even Sean Bean. Even more are in the case, too many to list. Even if some of these actors have small parts, you still feel invested in everyone because of the fantastic writing.

In terms of negatives: Well, not much honestly. But a brief part of the story goes from Mars and spends a long amount of time on earth. It’s not terrible, but when you realize the movie has probably spent about 20 minutes without the lead character on screen, it throws you off. It isn’t a bad 20 minutes at all, but once it jumps back on Mars the movie picks back up, and gets back to the tone it has built.

That’s really a minor complaint in an otherwise great movie. I’d even say that the 3D is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

So if you have time this weekend — I know midterms are coming up — I’d say this is the one to check out. It’s funny, compelling, well-acted, scripted, and it’s beautifully shot, as well. The post-production team did a great job making the landscape look like Mars, and it was easy to believe at times that I actually was looking at the planet. “The Martian” is definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. I hope you’ll feel the same.

Rating: 4.5/5 A fantastic and compelling sci-fi drama.