I got an alert on my phone that there was an advanced screening of, 'The Martian' in my city last night. My 8-year-old son and I have watched the trailer more times than I can count and we've counted the days until the release. He's a curious kid. He's the kind that always says, "I have a question", followed by me usually being floored at what comes out of his mouth, which sometimes leaves me to Google secretly to find and answer. I still want him to think Mom knows everything. I debated whether an 8:00 PM showing on a school night was a good idea since the movie start time is usually his bedtime. I needed to spend time with him, just the two of us, so I decided to be a "cool mom", and take him. (He got up great today, talking non-stop about the movie).
The movie doesn't waste any time in grabbing your attention. Within the first 7 minutes, we are in the thick of it. Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, and astronaut, and botanist, who is on the red planet for Ares Mission 3. He and his team are gathering samples to take back to earth when a fierce solar storm hits. Forced to abort their mission and get off the planet, Mark is lost in the storm on the way back to the spacecraft. They're forced to leave him, assuming he is dead. And, we have our plot.
Mark didn't die in the storm. In fact, this is not a story of a man who is severely injured and just waiting for a ride home. This is the story of a man who has amazing skills and wit, and is determined to not let the harsh environment consume him. He becomes the most bad ass problem solver I've seen on screen in years. He begins a video log, should he die, for whoever may visit the red planet in years to come, which details his extraordinary wits and brilliant scientific rigging to try and survive.
He has a limited supply of food for a mission that should have lasted far less than the time it will take to rescue him or send supplies, oh, and not to mention he has no way to contact NASA to let them know he is alive. He eventually makes contact with NASA and the brainstorming begins on how to bring him home.
I won't dive into specifics from this point forward, as I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone past what the trailer shows. The story has its moments of action, but I love how this movie relies on science to propel the storyline. You can go see plenty of non-stop action movies. They're a dime a dozen. This movie is almost a four-year college degree in science. And, I loved that for my son. As he listened to theories and concepts, some of which he couldn't wrap his head around. He was so excited about the theme of the movie, and constantly asked me questions that I couldn't Google as we sat inside the theater. It ignited the part of his brain that has the need to know. We have a list of questions that we will Google together when he gets home from school today. My kid left this movie wanting to know more about Mars and Botany. That was worth the price of admission alone.
For parents, the question is, do you take your kids to see this movie? From a ratings point of view, it is PG-13. It likely got the rating due to the F-word being said several times as well as a full backside nude shot of Matt Damon (or a body double). I like to think it was Matt Damon himself. Hey, he's not bad to look at, and damn if he hasn't aged well, if at all, since we first saw him in 'Good Will Hunting'. There are a couple of intense scenes full of suspense and also a graphic scene showing Mark taking care of an abdominal injury he sustains in the first few minutes of the movie. Overall, I think if your child or children are interested in science, space travel, and planets, there's no reason to not take them to see this creative and inspiring movie. Just be sure your kids aren't ones to repeat a few curse words. I think you'll be good to go.
Matt Damon gives, what I think, is his best performance since, 'Good Will Hunting'. His acting skills are like a fine wine that gets better with age. He nails the role. The supporting cast is perfect. Jeff Daniels plays the head of NASA. He perfectly captures the right mix of a man who supports the mission to bring him home with the hesitation of not wanting to have bad press should more people die in doing so.
If you love disco music, or love to hate disco music, you will enjoy a little running joke in the movie. I'll let you find out how it incorporates in. I'll just say that ABBA's, 'Waterloo', is perfectly placed in a pretty awesome scene.
The movie is beautifully shot and I highly recommend seeing the 3-D version if you can. You will feel as if you are on Mars along with Mark. The landscape shots are breathtaking.
The movie left me thinking about the space program and how ironic we have learned just this week that there is evidence of water on Mars. Will we ever see a manned mission to the red planet in our lifetime? My son asked me that last night on the ride home. I told him in his lifetime, I think so. Overall, I think you will leave the movie theater feeling like you actually paid your hard earned money to be entertained from the first to the last second of the movie. For me, it was by far the best film I have seen in years. Go see, 'The Martian', and take your science loving children with you!