During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring "the Martian" home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney's safe return. Written by
20th Century Fox
On September 28, 2015 (four days before the film's scheduled US release), NASA announced that it had found evidence that briny water still flows on the surface of Mars. See more »
Martinez announces "fuel reserves depleted", even though he shut the engines down, meaning there was still fuel to burn. See more »
All right team, stay in sight of each other. Let's make NASA proud today.
How's it looking over there, Watney?
Well, you will be happy to hear that in Grid Section 14-28, the particles were predominately coarse but in 29, they're much finer and they should be ideal for chem analysis.
Oh, wow. Did everybody hear that? Mark just discovered dirt.
Should we alert the media?
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During the first half of the ending credits, the names of the cast members (with the exception of Matt Damon) corresponds with their character in the film. See more »
Turn the Beat Around (Love to Hear Percussion)
Written by Peter Jackson Jr. and Gerald Jackson
Performed by Vicki Sue Robinson
Courtesy of RCA Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing See more »
This film made me feel neutral. I found the using-science-to-solve-problems aspect interesting but that isn't what makes a film resonate with me. It's the characters. The characters in this film do not feel like people. They feel empty. Sure, Mark Watney, the lead played by Matt Damon, has a personality I guess. We learn early on that he is an easy-going guy who can remain calm in most stressful situations. However, there isn't much else to him. I had no reason to connect to him. No one bothered to give him any sort of arc or background. He doesn't change or grow as a person at all. I know not every protagonist has to go through some sort of change but this character could have with at least a little bit of internal conflict.
This applies to the rest of the cast as well. Only four characters in the film stood out to me in anyway: Watney, Rich Purnell (Donald Glover), Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Michael Peña's character. Watney because he is, I suppose, more well rounded than the rest of the cast; Purnell because an archetypal quirky genius character is better than no character at all; Kapoor because his skills in communication and persuasion make him stand out which is a required quality for his job (Mars mission director, I had to look it up on Wikipedia); and Peña's character because of the two tiny moments of banter between him and Watney. Everyone else is defined by their jobs (which I've forgotten for the most part anyway) and what actions they need to do for their job.
When it comes to technical aspects, nothing was really done badly but nothing was done exceptionally either. The direction served its purpose but didn't impress. The cast did a pretty good job in their roles but no one made up for their lacklustre* characters. The visual effects are good. Granted, nothing stood out but that wasn't the purpose. They're supposed to make the spectacle look convincing, and they accomplish that.
Lastly, I would like to mention the score. Throughout most of the film, I didn't really pay attention to it but in the first few scenes when Watney is stranded on Mars, I felt that the music was too overdramatic. This probably isn't that much of a problem as I forgot about it quickly but it's distracting when the score is too intense or emotional for the scene it's accompanying.
Overall, this film neither impressed nor annoyed me. It's competently well made but it feels empty. If either the premise or the problem solving aspect interests you, you might like it. Otherwise, you can skip it.
*That's the British spelling of "lackluster" apparently.