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The Martian: Movie Review

Movieguide Magazine


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The Martian stars Matt Damon as an American astronaut accidentally left stranded on Mars, in a tense and surprisingly humorous story about survival in outer space. The Martian is director Ridley Scott's best movie in years, with an exciting finish, but the middle is too slow at times, and there's some intense adventure and a significant amount of foul language, including a couple verbalized "f" words.

Matt Damon stars as Astronaut Mark Watney, the botanist for one of several planned American missions to Mars. A massive sandstorm is coming toward The Martian base established by Mark and his five companions, and it turns out to be stronger than anticipated. (For more of the plot, go to

The Martian is exciting, suspenseful and surprisingly funny at times. The production is first class, with excellent special effects. The problem is with the editing. At times, especially in the middle, the movie seems like a travelogue and moves slowly.

That said, The Martian opens with a bang and closes with an exciting finish. Surprisingly, the scenes of the NASA and JPL scientists trying to figure out ways to help their stranded astronaut are almost as exciting and riveting as watching the astronaut and his companions survive a dangerous mission. In both cases, the astronauts' lives are at stake.

One of the movie's biggest assets is the strength of Matt Damon's performance as the stranded astronaut. Despite the potato scenes, Damon gives perhaps his most appealing performance here. Viewers will believe that his character is both smart and funny. You can't help but root for his survival.

Content-wise, perhaps the biggest problem is a significant amount of foul language. The foul language isn't constant, but The Martian would have been a family-friendly movie without so much of it. A little bit of foul language goes a very long way!

One of the movie's most appealing, winsome scenes is a scene where the stranded astronaut shaves some pieces off a wooden crucifix that a Christian astronaut has left behind. The astronaut needs some wood to start a chemical fire that will produce water for the potatoes he plans to grow. The astronaut apologizes to Jesus and prays informally that, hopefully, Jesus will bless his plans. The movie also contains a couple other, but more vague and implied, appeals to God. Of course, the whole movie is based on the premise that all human life is important, even if it's only the life of one stranded astronaut. People nobly sacrifice their careers and their own lives to rescue Mark Watney.

These positive Christian, moral elements are mitigated by some humanist and other non-Christian elements and references. Although the stranded astronaut and another character appeal to God in two or three scenes, another character notes his father was a Hindu and his mother was a Baptist. Also, the movie contains some humanist dialogue from the stranded astronaut where he places his faith in himself and his own abilities, not in God. There is nothing necessarily wrong in doing this, as long as we also acknowledge that our existence and our abilities are dependent on the God who created us and sustains us. Acknowledging God in our prayers is also relevant here, of course.

Be that as it may, the foul language in The Martian moves it away from being a family-friendly movie. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong or extreme caution.

Republished from with permission.

NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine: Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. For more information, go to

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About The Author

MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become