The Martian Parent Review
Regardless of how much of the screenplay is really a one-man show, the movie manages to maintain an engaging storyline and delivers plenty of tense moments.
In the not too distant future, a team of six NASA astronauts (played by Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Sebastian Stan and Aksel Hennie) explores the surface of Mars. They are a congenial bunch that have settled comfortably into their alien surroundings by assembling living quarters (an environmentally-controlled tent-like affair they call the “hab”), which is nestled in the shadow of a rocket – their ticket off the planet once their work is complete.
But what has become an almost routine schedule is disrupted when an approaching storm batters their equipment and threatens to blow away their temporary settlement. It is up to Commander Lewis (Chastain) to decide if they should ride out the bad weather, or abort the mission. Fearing the worst, she orders everyone to get into the escape vehicle. This proves to be easier said than done because darkness, gale-force winds and flying sand/rock hamper their journey between the hab and the rocket. Although most of them arrive successfully, botanist Mark Watney (Damon) is hit by debris and lost from their tracking signals. Knowing the teammate is most likely dead, a sorrowful Lewis gives the word and the rest of the crew departs.
It is not until the sun comes out the next day that Watney recovers consciousness and discovers he is completely alone on the hostile planet. Surprisingly, that is not his biggest worry. Nor is it his depleted oxygen supply. Instead, his greatest concern is the piece of antenna that has punctured his abdomen. Stumbling back to hab, the wounded man is forced to perform surgery on himself (shown in bloody detail) in order to stay alive. Once the shock and pain of that emergency are over, he begins to take stock of his desperate situation.
The rest of the script becomes an homage to the tenacity of the human spirit. Using his brains and creativity, Watney scavenges the camp and assesses what he has to work with. His ingenuity, along with video journal entries, keeps the story moving as he works each problem that threatens his survival.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Mission Control becomes aware of his movements. Realizing they have a stranded astronaut, the NASA team (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean) attempts to formulate a rescue plan. Their various viewpoints and political concerns add extra complexity to the bigger issues, like what spacecrafts are available to send back, and will Watney’s food supplies last until someone can get there.
Regardless of how much of the screenplay is really a one-man show, The Martian manages to maintain an engaging storyline and delivers plenty of tense moments. While that should delight viewers, parents may be disappointed by how much foul language the script contains. Usually the MPAA applies an R-rating to any film that uses the sexual expletive more than once. In this case (and despite the PG-13 rating), that offensive word is uttered clearly twice, mouthed silently at least two more times and alluded to repeatedly after that. Other content concerns include mild and moderate profanities, a couple of sexual slang terms and brief shots of a man’s naked backside.
Although science and technology are the gods of this universe, this sci-fi redeems it shortcomings with its themes of hard work, persistence and team effort. Watney’s personal determination would not have been enough without the help of his coworkers, and their abilities would not have been enough without the assistance of the greater global community. Mankind is stronger when we each pull together—and if the whole world embraced that message, then maybe no one would ever feel left behind.Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig. Running time: 130 minutes. Theatrical release October 2, 2015. Updated May 12, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Martian here.
The Martian Parents Guide
Realizing the seriousness of his situation, Watney leaves a message for his parents expressing his feelings about dying for a greater cause. What things would you consider to be worth dying for? Is space exploration on your list? What other characters also risk their time and lives? How do you feel about their reasons for making these sacrifices?
The head of NASA is depicted as being worried about the space agency’s ability to maintain funding and continue its work. What decisions does he make with those goals in mind? Why do some of his co-workers disagree with his recommendations? Should big companies be more concerned about the long-term success over the plights of individuals? Is there a way to balance both objectives?
How is the Public Relations Officer for NASA portrayed? What “spins” does the committee put on various pieces of information to make them more acceptable for the general public? Are these tactics truthful? Ethical? How would you handle these situations if this were your job?
What was the secret to Watney’s survival success? What application for your life could you find in his mantra to “just begin” and solve each new problem as it arises?
From the Studio:
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Based on a best-selling novel. Written by 20th Century Fox