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Review: The Martian

The Martian cover art for the extended edition DVD. Extended version has an extra 10 minutes of footage and  needed a new cover.
Photo by Matthew Hazel
The Martian cover art for the extended edition DVD. Extended version has an extra 10 minutes of footage and needed a new cover.

“The Martian” came out in 2015, but still is very well known today. The movie is a science-fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon. It is about an astronaut named Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is left on Mars after his team believes he was killed during their evacuation of the planet due to a sandstorm, and he must figure out how to survive until he can be rescued. There are many reasons why the movie is still remembered, but let’s go into detail on what made the movie great. (Warning: There are spoilers ahead.)

“The Martian” was actually based on a science fiction novel of the same name, released in 2011 by Andy Weir, first on his blog in a serialized format, until it was re-released and published in 2014 by Crown Publishing Group. The novel was then adapted into a screenplay by Drew Goddard and picked up by FOX, which appointed Simon Kinberg as the producer and Goddard as the director, but he didn’t make much progress before he left to direct a film called “Sinister Six,” so Scott took over as director. The film was finally approved and production started in November 2014. The film was finished on September 30, 2015. 

One of the best parts of the film is the performance from Damon. Damon plays the role of Watney perfectly. In the book, Watney is the narrator and uses lots of sarcasm and jokes while going over what he is planning to do. In the film they nailed this, Damon delivering one-liners and sarcastic jokes almost every chance he gets, just like in the book. One example is in a scene, NASA asks for a picture to show the public that he is alive and instead of doing a normal, static pose, he does The Fonz, a reference to the American Sitcom “Happy Days.”

Another highlight of the movie is the set and prop design. Props like the rover, MAV, and others were replicas of real NASA equipment. NASA helped set designers make the props as realistic as possible, So the MAV and the rover in “The Martian” look exactly like how they would in real life, on Mars. This attention to detail shows how much  the producers cared about this film. The producers also chose a great location for the set, using the desert Wadi Runa, which has been used as sets for Mars in countless other films like “Mission to Mars,” “Red Planet,” and “The Last Days on Mars.” This location is probably the closest thing that you can get to Mars on Earth, making it perfect. The interior scenes were filmed in 20 different sets that were all specifically created for the film. Showing the dedication of the producers.

Yet another great part of this movie is the cinematography and camera work. An example of this great work are the drone shots that are used while Watney is traveling great distances. The drone shots pan across the surface of Mars, and follow Watney, usually in his rover. The shots really convey how alone he is, and how small he is compared to the new world around him. 

One issue the film suffers from is in the plot. Some creative liberty had to be taken to make the story work. In both the book and the movie, the way Watney is left on Mars is from getting hit by debris during an evacuation during a sandstorm. However, the low pressure of the atmosphere would make it impossible for the winds to be strong enough to rip off a piece of the MAV and throw it at Watney. This makes the whole plot of “The Martian” impossible because Watney would never have gotten hit by debris like that, meaning that he would have been able to board and evacuate safely. However, this is less the movie’s fault than it is the book’s fault, which came out first and set up the story this way. 

One of the most impactful parts of the movie is when Watney figures out how to grow potatoes on Mars, which means he is technically the first person to colonize Mars in his universe. This section of the film really shows the movie’s message to persevere in tough situations. It shows how with everything against him Watney was able to defy the odds and come out on top, And it gives us a scene where Damon eats a potato with ketchup. 

“The Martian” is a great film; it is 91 percent on the site Rotten Tomatoes and has an overall rating of 4.8 stars. It shows how man will do anything that it takes to survive and how perseverance can allow you to do anything you strive to do. The great cinematography, amazing set design, and immaculate acting justify the praise that this movie has gotten and why it is still remembered to this day.

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About the Contributor
Matthew Hazel, RT Reporter
Matthew Hazel is a freshman in Middletown High School. This is his first year in Journalism. Matthew took Journalism to explore and prepare for a potential career in the broadcasting field in the future.  Matthew is on the Middletown Valley Ice Hockey Team, and is on a team based in Hagerstown. Matthew also has a rare eye disease called Stargardt's disease that affects his central vision. Other activities Matthew enjoys doing out of school is playing video games and watching youtube. Matthew used to live in Boyertown Pennsylvania until he moved to Middletown in third grade.

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