The Martian is a hard science fiction movie. The film uses some technical and scientific jargon, but clarifies so that the viewer can easily understand the complex issues and solutions. The general intelligence of the characters in the show is formidable, but they are all given relatively down-to-earth, relatable personalities.
The main character, Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon), has a very likable and fleshed-out personality. He’s fun, determined, and smart. However, they don’t delve too much into his personal life and relations. He doesn’t have any romantic interest. These aren’t necessarily bad things; it allows you to know him as his coworkers and superiors know him. You see his professional life and his friendship with the rest of the Apollo crew only.
It underscores the point that a good character can make a huge difference on the quality of a movie, book, or show. Mark Watney begins to feel more and more like a real person as you get deeper into the film. You root for him and want him to succeed. If he felt like a dull scientist or an mopey teenager, he would be harder to like or relate to. But he doesn’t brood or complain, he deal with the problem.
The CGI, sets, and props are amazing. You really feel like this is all taking place on Mars, with the real equipment. Some of the master shots impresses the vastness and feeling of insignificance Watney would face.
Mark Watney is determined and resourceful, even in the face of everything going wrong. He has the will and expertise to survive all this time on a planet, completely alone. It forces you to think: what would you do?
The movie has a good plot and writing and great characters, but it also makes you put yourself in Watney’s place. You empathize with him and the other characters in the show, visualizing yourself in their predicaments. It’s not just Mark who faces difficult choices and problems, but the rest of his crew and members of NASA back on Earth. That is one of the aspects of this movie that make it so good. It inspires thought. That’s something any good sci-fi movie should do.