*** out of ****
During an emergency evacuation from the surface of Mars due to a violent storm, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit with a massive chunk of debris and is presumed dead. His crew, led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), reluctantly blast off and head home to Earth. However, Watney actually survived, but he is now stranded on Mars with limited provisions and only Lewis' collection of disco tunes as his source of entertainment. Can he somehow communicate with Earth? And can they put together a rescue mission in time?
Much of the screen time in The Martian sees Damon's character using his ingenuity to stay alive as well as his wit to keep him sane. Meanwhile, on Earth, NASA scientist Venkat Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is desperately trying to figure out a way to get Watney back home.
Drew Goddard's screenplay, based on Andy Weir's book, is intelligent and – at least to me – seems to be more scientifically accurate than most outer space sagas. Expert direction by Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down) keeps the film exciting even though the events depicted here take place over the course of a year.
The Martian is a conventional “rescue” movie close in spirit to Apollo 13 (1995), and like Apollo 13, this is an extremely well-told story. As predictable as The Martian is, the tense finale will have you on the edge of your seat.