I’m a huge science fiction and fantasy fan. I love movies that have to do exploring unknown worlds and all the action, adventure and peril that come with it. Seeing as how Matt Damon is in this movie along with Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor well, I had to check this one out. Bean plays the Ares III mission director, but Chastain is the actual Commander who calls the shot. Ejiofor is at Misson Control. I thoroughly enjoyed them and the movie.
Disaster strikes: a massive dust storm throws you off your guard and basically ruins your mission. Imagine being stranded….on a hostile planet with no food, water and dwindling supplies. You’ve been presumed dead. Your colleagues have boarded the Hermes vessel and have left. What do you do? Mark Watney (Damon) not only survives the intense dust storm and its’ aftermath, but begins the process of trying to survive and thrive on Mars by himself. Once an injury, caused by a piece of antennae from his suit’s life monitor system is carefully removed, Mark has no choice but to prepare for the future no matter how short lived it may be. He needs food, water and oxygen. Thankfully, Mark is a botanist by trade and can carefully cultivate a rough farm in order to carry on. He makes due with what he is given. Mark proves to be quite a resourceful guy.
Back at NASA, director and planner Vincent (Ejiofor) and Mindy (Mackenzie Davis) realize after scanning pictures that Mark isn’t dead. This IS good news after all BUT there’s always someone higher up who has to put the kibosh on something positive, and that someone is Ted Sanders (Jeff Daniels), who is a high up in NASA. I don’t think these higher ups at NASA realized the tenacity and will that Mark has to survive. With a little help from a rover at his disposal, Mark finds a probe from a previous mission. He is able to use the probe’s camera and is able to somehow to hard wire communications in order to link up with NASA. Mark Watney is like the MacGyver of space!
Any mission to an outer space destination is going to be beset with problems and this one certainly has its’ fair share. Watney has to contend with limited resources and supplies all the while waiting for perhaps other probes from other missions nearby (note my sarcasm – a few years’ travel is considered close by) and other technical malfunctions that result in ruining Mark’s rudimentary farm. Help from another international space program (China) comes in the form of a booster that can drop a substantial amount of supplies to him but there’s always a setback. With time running out, tempers flaring, patience wearing thin and Mark’s life on the line, a last minute plan is executed in order to bring the wayward astronaut back home. There’s always calculated risks when dealing with precarious situations. Technology has its’ moments of instability and any equipment at Mark’s disposal isn’t always in the best condition, nor has it been tested for efficiency. As Watney makes a drastic choice to head out to the MAV that was previously docked for the Ares IV mission, certain technical specifications are modified in the hopes that Watney will be able to use it, survive and get back in one piece, unharmed. With the Hermes vessel using earth’s gravity as a means to propel them back to Mars, in order to intercept Mark aboard the MAV, anxiety mounts as the clock ticks away.
I could tell you how the movie ends. I could say everything was a bowl of cherries, that there are no losses, everyone is completely competent and comes out of this just fine. But that’s not the reality of any mission to explore unknown worlds. The special effects are top notch and Matt Damon conveys a very convincing sense of frustration, isolation and desperation. With great adventure comes an even greater risk to human life.
Enjoy it for yourself when The Martian debuts Saturday,