The Martian was one of the more highly critically acclaimed movies of the year in 2015, and garnered a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. 70% of the time, I'm actually not into movies that were nominated for Best Picture, so that's hardly an accolade in my book. That said, it still piqued my interest when it first came out into theaters and everyone said it was good, so I still figured I needed to see it.
This movie takes place in a present-day world where NASA actually has full funding--enough to send manned missions to explore Mars for several days (since they actually have the technology to sustain themselves over there for that long). During one such expedition, the crew of the Ares III is caught in a massive dust storm and one of their members, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), is left behind thought dead. And yet he survives.
With the Ares III long gone, he realizes he'll be there for a while and is forced to create supplies including food and water on his own while NASA tries to make a plan to get him back home. Good thing he's a botanist. "Mars will come to fear my botany powers," he declares in one of the more cheesy lines in an up-and-down screenplay that ranged from clever to awkward.
Some of the things he does to survive make more sense than others; his production of water makes sense, for one. But at another point in the film, he is somehow able to to reboot an old Pathfinder probe that's been dead for 20 years using nothing but power cords and some other mumbo jumbo that would not work no matter how you slice it considering that it had been deactivated for two decades *and* buried under Martian sand for God knows how long.
That's really one of the problems with this film; I am unsure whether I am expected to suspend disbelief or not, and if so, how much. There's actually some valuable survival skills in here, so at times it kind of wants to feel realistic, but other times it just says "screw it" and goes for the impossible in the midst of what they're appearing to sell as a scientific film--at least to a degree. (Heck, we could be sending manned missions to Mars for similar purposes as the ones in here decades from now, so you never know.)
That said, it's still a pretty entertaining film at times, although some parts drag on during the first half. The cast is pretty good, and the cinematography/special effects are brilliant--they do a very good job of depicting the world of Mars. The tension actually gets somewhat decent after a while as obstacle after obstacle rises, and you can't help but be riveted as the film flies to its conclusion.
The Martian certainly isn't a bad film at all. Probably my biggest gripe about it is its inconsistency at times. And some parts drag on more than others, which do admittedly make one wonder why it had to be a 140-minute film. It's still an entertaining film that's mostly well made and keeps you interested throughout the whole thing. It's not a classic, but it's not a movie that makes you switch the channel when it comes on either.