The Martian Review

 Actor Matt Damon attends the world premiere for "The Martian” on day two of the Toronto International Film Festival  flickr
Actor Matt Damon attends the world premiere for “The Martian” on day two of the Toronto International Film Festival flickr

Matt Damon experiences every astronaut’s worst nightmare when he is left behind on Mars.


From renowned director Ridley Scott comes “The Martian,” a futuristic version of Robinson Crusoe. If “Gravity” didn’t inspire space-phobia in moviegoers, “The Martian” will do the trick.


Mark Watney is an American astronaut who is thought to have been killed in a sandstorm during an emergency evacuation of a NASA mission on Mars. However, he lives and must struggle to survive against overwhelming odds in one of the most daunting survival stories ever told.


Weeks pass before NASA even becomes aware of Watney’s survival, and even then it is clear that months will pass before a resupply rocket can be launched and years before a rescue mission can reach him.


While Watney is clever enough to extend his food supply by growing crops within his pressure-controlled base, the isolation he is subjected to wears on him. As his supplies begin to dwindle and the movie progresses, the loneliness he experiences clearly deteriorates his physical and emotional health. By the end of the film, his gaunt frame highlights the physical strain he was under for more than a year alone on Mars.


Matt Damon delivers a predictably spectacular performance in his latest film. The rest of the star-studded cast includes Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean and Donald Glover.


Shooting a movie featuring a lone actor for most of the story is very difficult. The interaction of the characters is the primary process through which drama and exposition is delivered. To deal with this issue,  “The Martian” uses a video diary recorded by Watney to advance the plot and frame his character development. This, intercut with events on Earth and in the spaceship between his fellow astronauts, keeps the movie from becoming stale.


Another remarkable facet of the film is the incredible cinematography. Watney’s seclusion on Mars is highlighted by a vast and unforgiving landscape, an expansive Martian desert that extends for thousands of miles all around him.


Despite the theme of solitude, the uplifting story of the world’s response to a stranded astronaut overcomes the sense of loneliness of seeing a man stranded 33 million miles from home.


Not that one needs another reason to see “Steve Jobs,” but the Vermont Cynic is giving away free tickets for a private screening for UVM students, courtesy of Universal Pictures.


Be sure to stop by the office this week and pick up a free ticket for the advanced showing at Burlington’s Roxy Cinema at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, or attend the event early with your cat card because students attend for free.


Starring Michael Fassbender, supported by Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels, “Steve Jobs” tells the intimate story of the man behind Apple, one of the most powerful tech firms in the world. There is a good chance that anyone reading this owns at least one product of his, and based on the trailer the film looks to portray the controversial tech mogul in an unapologetic light.  


Written by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin and directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle, “Steve Jobs” is one of the most anticipated and highly discussed movies of 2015.


Seats are not guaranteed so be sure to arrive early and claim your spot.