The Martian (2015)
Much like Gravity did a couple of seasons ago, The Martian explores realistically how to survive in space when something goes wrong during a space travel. Instead of unknown and unpredictable scares and adversaries, our protagonist here must battle nothing but the laws of nature and time. Matt Damon is Mark Watney, a botanist on a manned mission to Mars who is left behind when the rest of his crew deems him perished in the midst of an unusually strong sand storm which threatens to tip over their ascent vehicle. He wakes up deserted on Mars with only their base of operations to cling onto for survival – and if possible, rescue.
Space is familiar territory for director Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus), but he is now an ageing man who seems more interested in the human side of things than he has been before. This is without a doubt an advantage for a script such as this, and Scott elegantly eludes the risk of letting his film become too long-winded and flat by more or less making the laws of nature into a character of its own. We can really feel the tension when Matt Damon's character must put all of his scientific knowledge into giving himself one chance of succeeding, whether it's about farming potatoes using his own excrements as fertilizer, or modifying his rover into being able to cover exactly the distances he needs it to, risking to freeze to death in the process.
Mark Watney's long stretches of coping, planning and hoping, which could have been a weakness for a film such as this if it were handled differently, instead becomes the film's greatest strength. It's a classic tale of man against nature, only set on the planet Mars. And the film toys reasonably realistically with scientific possibilities and scenarios, inviting both the average Joe and more science-minded people to delve into the story and/or discuss the factualities. The Martian is one big advertisement for science, physics and space travel. And I suspect the filmmakers, and novelist Andy Weir, will be quite satisfied with that.