The Martian Review: One of the best movies of 2015

Andy Weir's The Martian is as unlikely a success story in the entertainment industry as you'll ever see.

For starters, the book was first released in 2011 as a serial Weird published on his website for free. He put up one chapter at a time for download, and built a large fanbase rather quickly. After fans asked him to make a Kindle version available, he put the entire book up on Amazon for 99 cents and sold 40,000 copies in three months. Those kinds of numbers usually raise the attentive ears of publishers, of course, and Weir sold the print rights to the book to Crown Publishing in 2013.

The other thing about The Martian is that it's filled with science. Lots and lots of science and math. Weir's father was a particle physicist and Weir himself is a computer programmer. He researched every detail of the book to make it as realistic as possible. He doesn't take liberties with science or math, and it's based on current technology.

This might sound terribly boring, but the truth is that The Martian is one of the more entertaining books I've read. And I was worried that the film version—starring Matt Damon and out in theaters now—wouldn't be any good.

Thankfully, my worries were unfounded. The Martian is awesome. It's one of my favorite movies of 2015, and it is easily the most entertaining. It maintains the same funny and fierce spirit as the book while presenting the planetscape of Mars as a gorgeous and yet terrifying unexplored frontier.

In a nutshell, this is the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut on a manned mission to Mars who is left there when the rest of his crew believes he has died in an accident. Faced with a totally unhospitable planet, Watney must "science the s--t" out of it, as he says, in order to survive for any hopes of rescue. I don't want to give you any more details than that; you need to see this for yourself.

The movie is mostly carried by Damon and his solo performances, just as the book is carried by Watney. Damon is at once wickedly funny and also highly emotional, and his performance alone lights up the screen. But the supporting cast, with Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig and Chiwetel Ejiofor particular highlights, is a great one.

This is a movie everyone can enjoy. It's an edge of your seat thriller and it's also an uproariously funny comedy. It has a little bit of everything, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

RATING: *****

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