Holy hell, the adaptation of Andy Weir’s The Martian looks good. True, this movie is also about Matt Damon trying to survive alone on distant planet, but unlike Interstellar, no one is crying the whole goddamn time. Seriously, it looks amazing.
Spoilers for the book below.
The Martian was absolutely the standout film from Fox’s CinemaCon 2015 presentation (a gathering of cinema owners and film industry professionals). This is the gritty, space survivalist film we have been waiting for. No woo-science, no blubbering, no imaginary conversations with imaginary George Clooney — what I saw was a man abandoned on a planet that he is going to fix with science. No, really — the part that put me firmly in the “I must see this” camp for The Martian was after Matt Damon (who plays abandoned Astronaut Mark Watney) realizes that he only has enough food and oxygen for 30 days and says, “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” Fuck yes you are.
The star power in this cast is immense — monstrous, even. The Ares 3 crew (the group that accidentally leaves Damon behind) is commanded by Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) and includes Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña, and a few others I didn’t catch. Back on Earth is Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover (who plays an astrodynamicist), Sean Bean (the Ares 3 flight director), and Jeff Daniels, who is the NASA Administrator, and possibly the bad guy of this story (but it’s not black and white, which is a great thing).
The premise is simple: The Ares 3 crew heads to Mars there is a storm and the group has to return to their ship and leave the planet. Damon’s character is stuck by a piece of debris and presumed to be dead. So the crew leaves without him and NASA announces to the press that the mission has been aborted with the loss of a crew member. Of course, Damon is not dead — and then he has to figure out how to survive for three years on this planet, which is when the next planed mission is set to return to Mars.
The footage starts with a voiceover from Damon talking about the resilience of mankind and how in dark times we all try and help our fellow human out: “If there’s an earthquake people from across the globe will donate supplies, etc.” The footage cuts from famous face to famous face, everyone preparing for a massive NASA launch, and the screen fills with glorious images from the red planet (this is directed by Ridley Scott, after all). It’s truly beautiful. But then the disaster happens and the crew takes off, and everyone looks pretty miserable. Daniels makes the sad announcement to the press, but back on Mars Damon wakes up. This is where things get pretty wonderfully MacGyver-esque. Damon realizes he has no way to contact NASA, no food, and no hope for a rescue mission, but tries anyway. He posts a sign that reads “Are you receiving me?” and eventually NASA find him.
I’m not sure how swiftly NASA alerts the returning Ares 3 crew, but once they find out, they’re in. The Ares 3 crew has a meeting and it’s implied that they’re going against NASA’s wishes by trying to save Damon. Chastain informs the crew “This is something NASA rejected. This is mutiny.” She continues to let the crew know that from here on out everything they can do has to be perfect or they’ll die. But they’re ready for it, because as Chastain exclaims, “Let’s go get our boy.”
Meanwhile, Damon is just doing mad science. I’m not even kidding. There’s a brief montage of all sorts of science and space hacks he has to perform to keep himself alive (like growing food, etc). At one winning moment (not sure what) he yells out in jubilation “In your face, Neil Armstrong!” It’s great. Obviously, things get more dicey and you see Damon start to unravel, but you can’t help but cheer him on, specifically when he starts duct-taping his cracked space helmet. This is the strap-your-moon-boots-on scifi feature we’ve all been waiting for, and the whole thing screams “Fuck Yeah, Science.” Can’t wait.
The Martian will hit theaters on November 25th, 2015.