Extra DVD

The Martian: Matt Damon.
The Martian: Matt Damon.

The Martian (Cert 12)

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena, Aksel Hennie, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig, Mackenzie Davis.

The six-strong crew of the Ares 3, led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), are gathering samples on Mars when sensors pick up an approaching storm.

Lewis gives the order to evacuate and during the trek back to the ship, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by flying debris. “I know you don’t want to hear this. Mark’s dead,” crew member Beck (Sebastian Stan) informs Lewis, who reluctantly blasts off with the rest of her team: Johanssen (Kate Mara), Martinez (Michael Pena) and Vogel (Aksel Hennie).

They begin the long journey back to mission control, crestfallen by their loss. Little do they realise that back on Mars, Watney is alive. Meanwhile on Earth, NASA Administrator Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), Director of Mars missions Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Ares 3 flight director Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) cut corners to let Mark know the cavalry is coming.

Adapted from the bestselling novel by Andy Weir, The Martian is a riveting survival thriller set 140 million miles from home, which bears obvious similarities to the Oscar-winning thriller Gravity in both set-up and execution.

Director Ridley Scott employs the 3D format, available exclusively on Blu-ray, to dazzling effect in turbo-charged action sequences.

However, this is primarily a meditation on the endurance of the human spirit and in these quieter moments,

Drew Goddard’s lean script and lead actor Damon hold us spellbound.

“I’m not going to die here,” Mark tells himself as he faces each obstacle with gritty determination, raising his spirits (and ours) with flashes of humour including a running joke about Commander Lewis’ disco-heavy music collection.

Rating: 4/5