The Martian

Rated 2.0

When astronaut/botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck by debris and presumed dead during an emergency evacuation of Mars, he's stranded on the red planet with limited supplies and no means of communication, only surviving through scientific ingenuity. The Martian has an irresistible premise—Cast Away in space without the FedEx product placement—but director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard tell it in the most plodding and predictable manner possible. It doesn't help that every character is a glib, Sorkin-lite sassypants devoid of emotional complexity, or that the best parts feel lifted from better movies. Most maddening, though, is the film's compulsion to dumb down and over-explain, from Damon's direct-to-camera video diaries to the abundance of onscreen titles to the copious establishing shots of Earth and Mars, just so we don't get them mixed up. It's a film that respects the concept of intelligence; I just wish it respected my intelligence. D.B.