The greatest botanist on this planet

The Martian colonizes hearts and minds

Story by: Rosalind Williamson, Entertainment/Opinion Editor

“The Martian” starring Matt Damon hit theaters Oct. 2. This action-packed film chronicles astronaut Mark Watney’s abandonment on Mars, his efforts to survive on the barren planet and his attempt to return to Earth with the help of NASA.  The filmmakers adapted the film from a bestselling book with the same title.

This film does an excellent job of portraying the grit and difficulty of Watney’s situation in a way even the book failed to do. When he rescues himself after the beginning of his abandonment, a graphic scene ensues in which Watney must perform emergency medical care and staple his own side back together. Nothing quite so graphic occurs again, but by the end of the film, his emaciated form speaks for itself. Having only potatoes to eat for a year and a half takes its toll.

Despite the serious nature of the situation, the film does a good job of retaining humor and optimism. The soundtrack consists primarily of disco – the only music Watney has on Mars. Mark Watney’s predicament seems less grim when he drives across the desert in a rover blasting Donna Summers’ “Hot Stuff” at full volume. The movie also shows Watney not only solving ridiculous equations, but doing the math to prove them: truly the most difficult thing about interplanetary abandonment.

The only real problem with the film comes near the end, which feels rushed. The filmmakers cut out a few of Watney’s predicaments, perhaps contributing to the feeling that he discovers how to leave, and then just goes. But the movie already exceeds two hours – any longer and a viewer might fall asleep.

Setting shines throughout “The Martian”. The storm which begins the film absolutely stuns, especially in 3D. With every onscreen gust of wind one can feel Martian sand engulfing them. NASA’s headquarters presents a phenomenal panorama of people and technology; the vast expanse of space glitters with stars; a sweeping Martian landscape, filmed in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, takes one’s breath away. The astounding settings make immersion in this alien world possible.

“The Martian” definitely deserves two hours of anyone’s time. Action packed, realistic, funny and visually stunning, this movie engages and thrills any viewer.