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The Martian Movie Review

By Francesca Vidal

The Martian is truly an amazing movie centered on hope, teamwork, and never giving up. Its most serious scenes are well-balanced with lighthearted comedy, and the overall acting is fantastic as Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, the NASA astronaut who gets stuck on Mars for about a year and a half after being hit by debris, Jessica Chastain as Melissa Wilson, the NASA Commander on the Ares 3 mission, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor, the NASA Director of the Ares 3 mission, and many more. The Martian incorporates numerous elements of STEM and SEL.

The movie focuses on the space agency NASA and its mission to colonize Mars and bring Mark Watney home. Mark Watney is a Botanist who uses his knowledge of plants to grow potatoes on a planet with no vegetation. He accomplishes this feat by using the waste of his fellow crewmates to fertilize the soil, planting leftover potatoes, and burning the right amount of hydrogen from his leftover rocket fuel to cause a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to create water. At one point, Watney finds himself freezing in his rover. His solution to stay warm is to use a radioisotope thermal generator (RTG). An RTG works by converting the heat of decaying isotopes into electricity. All the scientists, mathematicians, and engineers at NASA come together in order to figure out how to bring Watney home and later calculate how fast and far the Hermes, the larger spacecraft used for the Ares 3 mission, should be from Watney’s spacecraft in order for the astronauts to catch Watney.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is prevalent throughout the movie. Following the storm on mars, everyone assumes Watney is dead. Knowing that no one will rescue him, Watney plans out what he must accomplish in order to survive for the next Mar Mission which would arrive in four years. He knows that farming on Mars is almost impossible, yet he uses his knowledge and determination to grow potatoes. Even though he faces many challenges, in no scene does Watney decide to give up? He works all day, with degrees of hunger, farming, setting up a device to communicate with earth, driving his rover to the next landing point for Mission Mars, and more. Watney copes with the frequent stress of death and loneliness by making jokes and playing uplifting music. He also does not let his bad experience stop his career as an astronaut as he is seen at the end of the movie on a shuttle, with his same crewmate, going to space for the Ares 4 mission. Teamwork is evident as everyone at NASA and other aerospace companies work together to create a cargo rocket and devise a plan to rescue Watney.

The Martian is a powerful movie with a powerful message: never give up. There were many moments where Watney could have become too tired to continue on and give up, but he keeps fighting. He works every day to survive long enough to be rescued. His first attempt to react hydrogen with oxygen to create water results in him being slightly injured from the resulting explosion. His second attempt was successful. The engineers, scientists, and mathematicians at NASA blow up the cargo rocket they planned to send to Watney, but later figure out a way for the Hermes to rescue him. Watney also accomplishes the impossible by farming and living on mars for about a year and a half. The Martian also teaches us to “dream big” as the movie is indirectly about colonizing mars. There are also some diverse characters that make a great impact on Watney’s rescue mission. The movie is filled with many messages of hope and determination that will continue to empower many generations to come.

Overall, we believe that the appropriate age rating for The Martian would be PG-13. There is strong language present throughout the movie and some scenes become intense. Watney suffers many injuries, the worst being at the beginning of the movie when he is impaled by an antenna. Presumed dead, Watney wakes up alone and has no choice but to pull the antenna out of his stomach and use medical tools to pull out a small piece still lodged inside him. He then inserts staples in his stomach to close up his wound. This scene may seem unsettling to some as the sight of blood is present. The movie is not recommended for younger audiences as most of the movie is a life-and-death situation for Watney, which may seem frightful.

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