Matt Damon plays an astronaut.  Again.  He is on another planet.  Again.  He is stranded.  Again.  He needs to be rescued.  Again.  Only this time, in “The Martian,” Damon isn’t a jerk.  Quite the opposite, Damon plays an extremely likeable scientist/botanist who is left behind Mars by his team of astronauts when a sandstorm strikes and Damon’s team believed that he was dead.  With a temporary base camp for shelter and about one month of food, Damon has to use every resource he has available — including his sense of humor and a never give up attitude — to survive long enough for NASA to send help.

Damon’s character is so intelligent and resourceful that I mistook him for MacGyver a few times.  Make no mistake, 99.999% of us wouldn’t make it past day 10.  Does that make this movie highly unrealistic?  Of course not, because there are thousands of highly intelligent people out there; and NASA doesn’t send idiots out into space.  Plus “The Martian” is considered sci-fi, so a bit of shenanigans are allowed.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Damon’s team (you know, the ones who scurried off the planet and left Damon for dead) are on their spaceship and close to Earth, and they are given the news that Damon and NASA have suffered several setbacks and Damon will most likely die on Mars.  But…there is a small chance he could be rescued if Damon’s team slingshots around Earth, picks up supplies provided by the Chinese, and heads back to Mars to prepare a James Bond-style pickup while in space (you’ll see what I mean if you watch a lot of James Bond movies).   It is a risky plan that jeopardizes the lives of 5 more astronauts/scientists and adds many more months of space travel, and the team takes a vote on whether they go home or go back for Damon.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Martian” is the scene when Damon figures out how he can create more food and oxygen and water to wait out the rescue that he hopes will come.  The ingenuity of this guy is amazing, and it is at this point that I was really rooting for this guy to make it.  I think most of the success of this movie is owed to Damon’s character connecting with the audience — we care about this guy, we feel great when he figures out a problem and are saddened to see a failure.  For two hours and twenty-four minutes, Damon is our friend who we want to see come home safely.

Yes, Maximus, I was entertained…but also confused regarding some of the science stuff that just went over my head.

— M