The Martian

Rated 4.0

Ridley Scott's latest is a fun and funny movie that represents lighter fare for the often dark director. Yes, it's about some poor sap getting stranded on Mars but, no, aliens don't burst from his belly after breakfast. Matt Damon spends a lot of time onscreen by himself as Mark Watney, a botanist on a mission to Mars who becomes the unfortunate recipient of a satellite dish to the gut during a storm, a violent squall that mandates the evacuation of his crew. After an attempt by his commander (Jessica Chastain) to retrieve him, the crew bugs out thinking Watney has bought the farm. (Yep … that's a botanist pun I just dropped right there.) Watney awakens to find himself alone on the red planet with a piece of metal stuck in his gut. After another Ridley Scott directed self-surgery scene—reminiscent of that yucky self-surgery scene in Scott's Prometheus—Watney commences survival mode. The film has fun with science facts involving things like the creation of fertilizer, the surprising need and effectiveness for duct tape and tarps on Mars, and trying to make fire out of mostly fire-retardant materials. Scott and his writers present these overtly nerdy aspects of the movie with great humor and the right amount of intelligence without making things too complicated.