Story: A NASA astronaut, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), is stranded alone on Mars after his team of astronauts (which includes actors Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Sebastian Stan, Askel Hennie, and Jessica Chastain as the mission commander) leave him for dead following a brutal storm that forces the astronauts to leave Mars early and head back to Earth. NASA (made up by Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kristen Wigg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover), and quickly Earth, finds out Mark is still alive. Mark is using his NASA training, his knowledge as a botanist, and his unending optimism to survive long enough for a rescue plan to be formulated by NASA. NASA decides to keep the fact of Mark’s survival from his team so they can focus on their long journey home. With problems mounting and supplies running low, even with Mark’s resourcefulness, Mark’s chances for survival look dire and NASA will have to devise a miracle if they hope to bring him home.
Thoughts: This film has been getting mixed reactions from critics. One review blurb said the film didn’t have enough fuel or thrust or some clever pun to make it to the end. I not only disagree with that assessment but go even further by saying The Martian is one of the smartest space movies I’ve ever seen. It’s well-thought out, expertly researched by the book’s author Andy Weir, it shows smart people being smart (not incompetent boobs who are brilliant only because the movie says so), and it’s naturally funny while still being serious during moments where real life people would be serious. It’s also very optimistic. I walked away feeling good about the space program, yes, but also about everything else in the world, including this movie.