When a mission to Mars goes wrong, one of the astronauts, Mark Watney, is presumed dead and left behind. Using his technical ingenuity he strives to contact NASA but is all too aware that his diminishing supplies will not last more than a few short weeks and the earliest rescue will take at least three years. Using his knowledge as a botanist, Mark begins to grow food and fights to survive until he can be rescued but with the planet’s harsh conditions and Mark’s loneliness, will he be able to stay alive long enough?

The Martian (2015) – Director: Ridley Scotis themartian appropriate for kidst

 

Rating: 12

Running Length: 141 mins

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig

Genre: Science Fiction

REVIEW

Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Andy Weir, ‘The Martian’ is a return to form for Ridley Scott, whose preoccupation with epic tales has become somewhat tiresome. By focusing on the story of one man’s survival but in a very matter-of-fact way rather than reaching for contrived drama, ‘The Martian’ succeeds in gluing you to your seat as each setback lowers the chance for survival for the only human alive on our closest neighbour in the solar system.

Although there are strong supporting performances and good balance of time spent on Mars to Earth, responsibility for hooking the audience lands squarely on the shoulders of Watney (played by Damon). It is evident that great effort has gone in to making Watney likable and there’s a rich vein of humour running throughout. Whether he is scavenging for parts to rig up a potato-growing field, cobbling together a radioactive heating system for the Mars rover, or calculating how to divide his rations in order to live long enough to be rescued, Watney’s inherent charm carries the movie on so that no scene drags, and any lapses in despair are all the more powerful for their rarity.

Unlike high-brow special-effect bonanza, ‘Interstellar’ and despite being sprinkled with gorgeous sweeping shots of the harsh, red Martian landscape, ‘The Martian’ takes a more practical ‘Apollo 13’ approach to space travel. As such, the plot bounces along a path of adversity, problems, solutions, complications and last gasps so that the nearly three hours runtime flies past in no time at all. ‘The Martian’ chooses to – for the most part – brush aside any conflict or arguments the other characters might otherwise have had (everyone conveniently votes for the ‘right’ course of action), but it is clear this is Watney’s story, and with Matt Damon on top form, ‘The Martian’ is a fantastic journey of being marooned, and living for survival.

IS ‘THE MARTIAN’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

There is very little content in terms of scenes that would be unsuitable for children. In fact, we barely had any notes at all after watching ‘The Martian’.

However, there is bad language throughout the movie that is impossible to avoid and this is often of a moderate to strong nature, including some blasphemous (although common) phraseology.

Otherwise, moments of note are: Watney is struck heavily by debris during a powerful storm and blasted backwards. The other crew members look for him but have to leave before their craft topples over. They are distressed at leaving him behind but believe him to be dead. The scene is not overly emotional, instead showing resigned despair.

Watney has to remove some metal shrapnel from his body. When we first see this, it is a spike through his body whilst he is wearing a spacesuit and there is some blood. Once he returns to the habitat building he removes his spacesuit and has to patch himself up. This involves pulling out the spike, which makes him cry out in pain. He sits in a chair with a mirror and then uses some forceps to dig inside the hole in his abdomen to remove further chunks of metal. This is shown in close-up and is sustained. He then has to use a stapler to seal up the wound. Before doing this he squeezes the wound and thick, dark blood oozes out. The scene lasts around 5 minutes and has several close up shots showing blood and injury that last several seconds. However, the scene cuts between close-ups of the injury and distence shots. Whilst Watney does cry out on occasion, mostly he grunts in pain and works with rapid concentration. The scene is matter-of-fact rather than gory, but does go on for long enough that someone sensitive to visual injury may struggle.

When a seal in the habitat wall is breached Watney is thrown backwards inside a detached air-lock. His visor is punctured and he panics as he loses air. His panic is shown in close-up but even though he is desperate, he works practically and with purpose to seal the puncture.

Watney takes a shower and walks away from camera drying his hair with his bare behind exposed for several seconds.

When Watney runs out of ketchup he resorts to crushing a Vicodin (painkiller) to use as a condiment on his potatoes.

Most of the cursing is meant in jest or as part of casual conversation and is not meant to be insulting. However, the language used is moderate to strong. One character says that Watney has objected to excessive advice on how to grow his crops by retorting that they should go ‘have sex with themselves’. One strong curse word is said aloud twice, but also referred to other times, such as being clearly mouthed; typed in messages seen on-screen (shown as ‘f—ing’); and also verbally referred to by other characters such as saying ‘f-word’ and ‘German f-word’

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘The Martian’ is a fun, beautiful, practical movie which never outstays its welcome. The supporting characters have enough personality to make them engaging so that when the plot is not with Watney it can still be just as entertaining, and Damon leads the film with confidence. However with the constant bad language and themes of isolation and survival, this is not a movie made for children and thus how much a child will enjoy it, or it be appropriate for them to watch, will depend on their attitude towards such a set up and parents feelings on swearing. We therefore feel that ‘The Martian’ would be appropriate for children aged 12 and over only.

  • Violence: 0/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (whilst Watney is mostly positive in the face of adversity there are some short scenes of him sobbing due to the stress. Other characters miss their families but have fun talking to each other over video link)
  • Fear Factor: 0/5
  • Sexual Content: 0/5       
  • Bad Language: 5/5 (constant moderate swearing. Occasional blasphemous exclamations. Some strong usage. Watney says once, ‘my balls are frozen’)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (originally Watney is believed dead and there is a pragmatic discussion at NASA about a satellite maybe seeing his ‘body’ and that there would be no ‘decomposition’)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of isolation, loneliness, survival, mental well-being, putting the lives of others first, keeping cheerful in the face of adversity, and looking for the greater good.

Words by Mike Record

The Martian


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