Rental Review - The Martian

The Martian (2015), PG-13, 141 minutes - I had originally hoped to see this film back in October when it first hit theaters, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I didn't have the opportunity until its recent blu-ray release.  So after having to wait (not so patiently) for that to happen, my wife (who has read the book) and I sat down this past week to see if The Martian was as good as everyone said it was.

If you've read Andy Weir's book that was the source material for this film, then you already have a bit of an idea of what to expect (although my wife informs me that there are plenty of differences).  According to her, some plot points are more heavily focused on than others but fear not, the basics of the story remain intact!  If you're like me and were excited by the trailer but were too lazy to read the book first, it goes a little something like this: Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is part of the Ares III crew that comprises the first manned mission to Mars.  A storm on the planet's surface cuts their expedition short and separates Watney from the rest of the crew.  When they realize that the storm is much worse than anticipated, they evacuate the planet, leaving Watney behind, believing him to have been killed by storm debris.  After their escape, Watney regains consciousness, only to find himself injured and abandoned on the barren planet.  He makes his way back to the shelter of the crew's temporary research habitat, patches himself up, and begins to 'science the shit' out of everything at his disposal in an attempt to make contact with NASA and survive as long as possible.

This sci-fi tale of survival is dramatic, intense, and surprisingly humorous.  Director Ridley Scott is no stranger to space-based films, and this is one of Matt Damon's best performances to date.  The rest of the cast is a veritable who's who of recognizable actors/actresses including Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Sebastian Stan, and Kristen Wiig.

Based on recommendations from friends, the trailer, and personal tastes I purchased The Martian for my collection sight-unseen and I wasn't disappointed.  I may even be more intrigued to read the book now than before thanks to my wive's comments about where differences in the story occur.  The Martian is a very entertaining film that most people will enjoy.  Yes, it's sci-fi, and as such has a good bit of science-y stuff, but it isn't difficult to follow if that's not your sort of thing.  The ending is a little predictable, but that doesn't hurt the enjoyment of the film at all.  I'm glad I was finally able to get around to seeing this film as it was one of the best that I've seen from this past year and will most assuredly place fairly well on my Best of 2015 list (coming soon).

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