When a storm forces a team of astronauts to abort their mission to Mars, one man is lost and presumed dead. When the storm dies down, astronaut Mark Watney finds himself stranded alone, on a hostile planet, millions of miles from home. When NASA hears his cry for help and realizes that Mark is alive, they, along with Mark’s crewmates, embark on a daring mission to rescue him.
One of the most important themes in this movie is life and it is expressed in two different ways. When NASA discovers that Mark Watney is alive, they face an excruciating choice: do they return to Mars to rescue Mark and bring him home or do they leave Mark to die on the planet alone? Although NASA does establish communication with Mark, and attempts to aid him by sending him life sustaining supplies until Mark can be rescued, all hope for Mark’s survival seems lost when both the ship carrying the supplies and the miraculous garden that Mark created to provide him with food are destroyed.
When the first rescue attempt fails, NASA is faced with another choice: do they send a second probe to aid Mark until a rescue ship can be sent or do they reveal the truth of Mark’s fate to his crewmates on the Hermes and allow them to return to Mars and rescue him even if doing so means potentially sacrificing the lives of Mark’s crew? For Mark’s crew, and especially for Melissa Lewis, the Commander of the Hermes, there is only one choice and that choice is saving the life of their crewmate even if that means sacrificing their own lives to bring their lost brother home.
For Mark, the theme of life is expressed in a different way. When he wakes up alone on Mars, Mark realizes that the radio antenna that damaged his bio-monitor and caused his crew to believe he was lost in the storm was in truth the very thing that saved his life. When he realizes that he is alone on the planet and that his only hope of salvation is millions of miles away, Mark uses his knowledge as a botanist to create life where life doesn’t exist in order to survive. He uses rations from the ship to grow potatoes and nourishes his fragile garden with the water that he forges from fire and the ship’s fuel. More importantly, Mark uses creative engineering to establish contact with NASA and let the people of Earth know that he is alive. When Mark begins his “new” life on Earth, he uses the knowledge that he gained from his experience on Mars to teach the next generation of astronauts how to live.
“The Martian” is a film that defines what it means to overcome impossible odds and be a hero. The casting for this film is excellent, particularly for Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain who play Mark Watney and Commander Lewis. The story, while a bit predictable at times, still provides a strong message of hope and determination to survive. If you enjoy a good fantasy/drama, then this film is definitely worth watching.