"The Martian" is science-fiction with an emphasis on the "science" part, a big-budget adaptation of Andy Weir's best-selling 2011 novel that only takes a few minor liberties in its bid for scientific accuracy. The premise, pared down to the essentials, is simple yet attention-grabbing: an astronaut, believed dead, is left stranded on Mars by his crew. Director Ridley Scott (2013's "The Counselor") knows his way around cinematic voyages into outer space (he did, after all, helm 1979's "Alien" and 2012's "Prometheus"), but this time he trades in frightening extraterrestrials for a story rooted more solidly in realism. "The Martian" is an old-fashioned adventure yarn where the only villain is the harsh, desolate, unforgiving environment of a planet that is, on average, 140 million miles away from Earth. Unfortunately, the film is admirable more for what it strives to be than what it achieves. The screenplay by Drew Goddard (2013's "World War Z")—not unlike the characters he has written—is lacking personality, moving on a steady, subdued path that captures one's attention if not his or her heart.
When a violent dust storm throttles the crew of Mars-based mission Ares III and botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is thought fatally injured by satellite debris, Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) must make the tough decision to evacuate their landing site. Wounded but very much alive, Mark quickly assesses his options and comes to one startling conclusion: he has been left frighteningly alone on a planet so far away it could potentially take four years to be rescued. Stranded among surroundings not fit to sustain human life, he must use every skill he has learned as an engineer and scientist to help him survive. When NASA director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) learns Mark didn't perish, a race against time to bring him home begins.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review