Matt Damon, space travel and sci-fi. These are three of my favorite things, all present in “The Martian,” which was released Oct. 2.

During a manned mission to Mars, the crew is forced to evacuate after a storm on the planet hits them. But, during the evacuation, astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) is presumed dead and left on Mars. He is forced to use his intelligence to survive.

Watney must grow his own food, live in a Hab (habitat) designed to last only 31 days and find a way to let NASA know he is still alive. Despite all of these obstacles, Watney never loses his sense of humor and provides much-needed laughs throughout this intense movie.

The soundtrack, consisting mostly of disco, is the perfect accompaniment to the movie, and also lightens the mood. Some of the songs include “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer and “Turn the Beat Around” by Vickie Sue Robinson.

“The Martian” is directed by Ridley Scott, and is based on a book by Andy Weir.

Weir originally self-published the book on his personal website, then published it on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for 99 cents.

Soon the book climbed to the best-seller list for Kindle books, catching the eye of Random House and Fox.  

Weir got both a publishing deal and a movie deal within four days.

Having both read and seen “The Martian,” I am in love. The book is wonderfully written, with just the right balance of science and humor. And the movie – starring Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels – is phenomenal and enthralling.

Even though many critics liked the movie much more than the book, I disagree. Yes, the movie was constrained by time, leaving out many of my favorite events from the book and changing a few others.  

However, I enjoyed the way Scott portrayed Watney’s situation. The long monologues from Watney and intense scenes on Mars never fail to mesmerize the viewer, and the roles of the actors on Earth are just as interesting and important.

Despite the movie being almost two-and-a-half hours long, the plot did not drag at all. With one action grabbing my attention then another, I never became bored.

However, if you’re a science nerd like me, you should read the book first. Scott is a very talented director, but even he doesn’t try to explain the reasoning behind many of Watney’s actions. The viewer just accepts it, which is often fine. But I can’t sleep peacefully until I understand every last detail, and the book is much better at explaining details than is the movie.

“The Martian” was highly anticipated for good reason. It received a 93 percent positive review on Rotten Tomatoes, and earned $54.3 million opening weekend, surpassing Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” ($47.5 million) and almost matching Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” ($55.8 million).

Overall, “The Martian” is charming, humorous and captivating. And it is possibly one of the greatest advertising campaigns for NASA, for it greatly increased the agency’s publicity beyond the scientific community and will help it get funding for a mission to Mars in the future.

So, if you have two-and-a-half hours to spare one evening, and enjoy a few cheesy jokes and a lot of disco, go watch “The Martian.” You’ll be glad you did.

—By Allison Zhang

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