A NASA crew of astronauts led by commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) is in the middle of week two of their Ares III mission on Mars when a strong storm barrels for them. As they all flew to the shuttle botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck by a piece of equipment and knocked away. Melissa still does a quick search, but he’s assumed dead. So Melissa and the rest of the crew — Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), Rick Martinez (Michael Peña), Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie), and Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan) — abort the mission and leave the red planet. They notify the head of NASA Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), who then breaks the bad news to the rest of the world. But the thing is Mark is still alive, the antenna that punctured his body also managed to seal his suit. He returns to the base camp and starts figuring out what he’ll need to do survive some four years before the next Ares mission. As he grows potatoes and figures out how to contact NASA to say he’s still alive, a satellite planner Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) discovers he’s alive when noticing the rover moved after the crew left. Meeting with NASA mission directors Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) and Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and NASA Spokesperson Annie Montrose (Kristen Wiig) they decide to wait until the crew comes home some several months from now. With NASA now knowing Mark is alive can they find a way to rescue him off that planet?
The Martian is a fun, smart, sci-fi survival film that lives up to the hype. Much of the credit is due to Matt Damon, who (despite recent comments) is enjoyable to be around and easily can carry his scenes. Damon’s magnetism also makes the movie surprisingly funny with a lot of good one-liners and banter with his co-stars — and that huge list of strong supporting players are all a giant bonus. The story is fairly straight-forward with the typical complications and obstacles for survival, but it doesn’t need twists and turns to keep you entertained. The well;-over two hour run-time also breezes by making the movie feel half as long. It’s also very much appreciated that the movie doesn’t dumb things down too much, making it a more mature, big-budget blockbuster. Overall The Martian delivers and is the must-see movie of the moment and worthy of a trek to the theaters.