Movie Review: The Martian

Let’s switch from our blood-red horror reviews to a Martian-sand-red look at the month’s most successful film, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s The Martian.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Drew Goddard
Based on the novel by Andy Weir


Matt Damon as Mark Watney
Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor
Benedict Wong as Bruce Ng
Jeff Daniels as Teddy Sanders
Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose
Michael Peña as Rick Martinez
Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson
Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen
Sebastian Stan as Chris Beck
Aksel Hennie as Alex Vogel
Mackenzie Davis as Mindy Park
Donald Glover as Rich Purnell
Chen Shu as Zhu Tao
Eddy Ko as Guo Ming


An astronaut, left for dead when a Mars mission evacuates, must survive in the hostile environment while, back on earth, NASA attempts to develop a credible rescue plan.

High Points:

Whereas the book rarely bothers to describe its environment, the film delivers spectacular landscapes and space shots, all in service of the story and its vision.

And where most mass-media SF is action-adventure in a space setting, The Martian gives us a thriller based on plausible science and engineering (some people have quibbled over the effects of the Martian storm).

Low Points

The vistas of Mars look great—but, save for some of the space shots, 3-D remains a gimmick that adds very little to the film experience.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6

Effects: 6/6 If the visuals aren’t perfect, they’re fine until perfection arrives.

Acting: 6/6 The novel’s characters did not consistently ring true in the source material; the film’s revisions and the performances—most significantly, Matt Damon’s—give us more believable explorers with engaging personalities. What we don’t get is any real insight into the effect of Watney’s isolation. He may be among the best and brightest, but he’s still human. The Martian doesn’t really explore humanity’s resolve to survive; it assumes it.

Production: 6/6 The film has exceptional production values, evident in everything from the near-future tech down to the Martian sand.

Story: 6/6 I’ll give full credit to Weir’s story, even if the movie version must skip some technical explanations.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The film may seem a bit predictable, even if you haven’t read the book, but it has been nicely executed.

Overall: 5/6 The Martian, certainly, should be on your must-see list, and the phenomena created by the book may even encourage interest in space travel. You’ll enjoy the story and visuals and the problems solving, and that may be enough to expect from a film. I don’t know you’ll be left with many deeper human issues to ponder.

In total, The Martian receives 36/42.