The Martian

 alt=I watched The Martian around the Christmas weekend. The Martian is a 2015 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon with Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in supporting roles. The film is based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel The Martian, which was adapted into a screenplay by Drew Goddard.

Set in the year 2035 the crew of the Ares III shuttle is part of the first manned mission to Mars. On day 18 of their 31 day mission a severe dust storm forces them to abort the mission and return to their orbiting vessel Hermes. During the evacuation, astronaut Mark Watney is struck by flying debris and is lost in the storm; the last telemetry from his suit indicates that it has lost pressure, with no life signs. With their launch vehicle on the verge of tipping over in the wind, and the remaining crew’s lives in peril, mission commander Melissa Lewis gives the order to launch without retrieving him; they subsequently leave Mars aboard the Hermes. Everyone back at home and in NASA believes Watney to be dead. However he wasn’t; just unconscious.

Watney wakes up by day to the sound of low oxygen warning and heads back to the habitat and tends to his wounds. He realizes that his only chance of rescue will be the arrival of the Ares IV crew in four years. Calculating that he has enough food to last only 300 sols (Martian solar days), he improvises a farm in the Hab by making Martian soil fertilized with vaccuum packed toilet waste, after finding whole potatoes saved for a Thanksgiving meal, and water produced by extracting hydrogen from leftover rocket fuel then oxidized by burning. He keeps a series of video logs to maintain morale and begins to modify the one functional rover to increase capacity to make long journeys across Mars’ vast terrains. While reviewing satellite photos of Mars, Mars mission director Vincent Kapoor and satellite planner Mindy Park realize that Watney has survived, and immediately start planning to establish contact. Initially the decision is made not to inform the rest of the crew that they had unknowingly left him there alive. Watney manages to restore communication to earth using delay typed text messaging.

The crew is finally informed of Watney’s survival & formulate a plan to send a space probe to Mars and resupply Watney with enough food to allow him to survive until Ares IV’s scheduled arrival. Watney suffers a disaster when the airlock on the habitat explosively decompresses, killing his potatoes and reducing his projected supply of food. The team on Earth desperately tries to reduce the time needed to prepare the resupply, resulting in Sanders deciding to skip safety inspections, which backfires when the probe, christened Iris, explodes shortly after liftoff. NASA gets help from China for another attempt while astrodynamicist Rich Purnell figures out a trajectory which could send Hermes back to Mars much more quickly, using the Chinese booster to instead resupply it for the necessary additional year and a half in space. Lewis and her crew vote unanimously to execute the plan, and NASA – powerless to stop them – proceeds with the resupply as Hermes flies by Earth, using its gravity to slingshot them back to Mars.

After 461 days on Mars Watney begins his 3200km, 90-sol journey to Schiaparelli crater, where the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) for the Ares IV mission was previously landed. He makes the recommended modifications to the MAV it escapes Mars successfully. He is able to make it to the open arms of his crew a reunion worth savouring and is brought back to earth. As the movie ends Watney begins “day 1” of his new life, serving as a survival instructor for new candidates in the astronaut training program, emphasizing his own experiences in problem-solving and creative engineering. Years later on the occasion of the Ares V mission launch, those involved in Watney’s rescue have returned to their lives or begun new lives.

Very good movie with some humour mainly from Damon and a nice soundtrack. It’s not really that exciting but it’s entertaining enough. I give it an 8.5 outta 10!

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