Review: 'The Martian' is the whole package

Actor Matt Damon, who stars as NASA Astronaut Mark Watney in "The Martian," smiles after making hand prints in cement at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Mars Yard while Mars Science Lab Project Manager Jim Erickson and NASA Astronoaut Drew Feustel look on. The movie is based on NASA data and realistically portrays what life would be like on Mars. (Bill Ingalls NASA/Flickr).

Actor Matt Damon, who stars as NASA Astronaut Mark Watney in "The Martian," smiles after making hand prints in cement at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Mars Yard while Mars Science Lab Project Manager Jim Erickson and NASA Astronoaut Drew Feustel look on. The movie is based on NASA data and realistically portrays what life would be like on Mars. (Bill Ingalls NASA/Flickr).

“The Martian,” starring Matt Damon, met a wave of overwhelming praise for its high entertainment value upon release this weekend.  Ridley Scott, the movie’s director, brought elements from all aspects of cinema to accomplish a very enjoyable movie watching experience.  

What made this movie such an easily enjoyable experience was Scott’s ability to effortlessly combine action, emotion, suspense and comedy into the plot.  The entire movie felt like a roller coaster ride based on the feelings surrounding the plight of the main character, Mark Watney, stranded on Mars, with only his brain to use as a tool to overcome the massive odds of starvation before rescue.  

Surprisingly, these feelings were displayed as being generally positive, happy and enjoyable.  Ridley created a situation where it appeared as if Mark was more than not enjoying his time stranded on Mars, and this made the movie watching experience so easily gratifying.  Who wouldn’t want to see the intelligence of man conquer the grim forces of another planet?

Watney’s journey was glorified far beyond the feelings that would have actually been expressed by an individual suffering to survive on another planet.  If he failed, he would die alone on a world 50 million miles away from his friends and family back on earth.  

Even though Mark’s journey was enjoyable to view, he simply survived far too easily.  It’s completely true that the level of scientific knowledge that Mark employed in the film was light years beyond that of the average educated person, but it was unavoidably peculiar just how smoothly his efforts went.  

For example, a storm on Mars’ surface projected to be much weaker than it actually was, proved to be the reason Mark was abandoned and nearly killed in the first scene of the movie.  

Why then would the director choose to never again show weather having an impact on Mark’s efforts over the course of the extra year that he spent on the planet?  Why would a near fatal explosion caused by the experimental process to convert rocket fuel to water be shown under a comedic light?  

These are questions that should not arise within the film’s seriousness regarding human life.

What aggravated me the most in this film was the use of disco themed music.  It was all that was available to Mark after his miraculous recovery from a storm that nearly killed him and his crewmates.  This music was used by Ridley to highlight the good times during Mark’s experience, and possibly also to convey the feeling that Mark was never truly alone.  

But the music gave off a sense of comfort that had absolutely no place in the film--especially on a planet like Mars, with the ever-present possibility that an un-welcomed storm might instantly end his efforts and life.

I enjoyed the film’s ability to evoke feelings on the oneness of humanity.  We all understand that mankind, spread amongst the earth, is of a single species, yet hatred and disagreement blind us to this unifying reality.  By expressing the effort to save Mark, the living astronaut, as an international endeavor imposed together by the United States and China, this movie captures the logicality of international cooperation.

“The Martian” is a movie that in its totality was an overwhelming success.  Although it glorifies the experience of surviving alone on a Martian planet, it brings together aspects within its plot that masterfully impose a message on human unity.  Altogether, the film is an overall enjoyable movie that will fuel your imagination and further develop your view on the unity of mankind.


Connor Grothe is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.grothe@uconn.edu.