Based on Andy Weir's best-selling 2011 novel and released in 2015, The Martian is about astronaut Mark Watney's (Matt Damon) efforts to stay alive after being presumed dead and abandoned following a gigantic storm on Mars.
Watney uses his science knowledge to survive, knowing he has four Earth years (each day is a "sol") before Aries IV arrives. Thank God for the human waste the Aries III Marsonauts saved. With it, soil is produced and he grows potatoes for seed and food.
Meanwhile, NASA receives satellite pictures showing movement of Mars base camp elements. The discovery starts a public shit storm back on Earth. Led by agency director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), NASA tries to read Mark's mind and figure out what he's doing.
Communications are facilitated when Mark finds the 1997 Mars rover, Pathfinder, and turns on its still camera. It's a very emotional moment when they exchange their first messages, a moment that I fully appreciated and shared. And I fully understand how his returning Aries III crew feels when they are finally advised two months later — simultaneously offended and dismayed.
Problems do arise, but thank God for duct tape and the Chinese. The conclusion is tense and emotional; I loved the book with its twists and turns, and I love the movie for the same reasons. Plus, the '70s songs in the soundtrack are relevant and are there for a reason. Not to mention that there's real science involved in his survival story.
~ "Good thing I'm a botanist. Mars will come to fear my botany powers." ~ Mark Watney (Matt Damon)