Damon has never seemed more at home than he does here, millions of miles adrift. Would any other actor have shouldered the weight of the role with such diligent grace?
It's pretty sunny and often funny, a space oddity for a director not known for pictures with a sense of humor.
Bringing optimism, nerd-itude and a touch of crazy to his character's solo ordeal -- at one point, scraggly Watney calls himself a "space pirate" -- Damon is the key to the movie's exuberance.
The film is a profound testament to the rare-and underrated-virtue of simply not screwing anything up.
The Martian plays to both Scott's strengths and weaknesses. By relegating Mark's predicament to a purely survivalist scenario, he keeps things humming along without ever widening the horizon. But there was an obligation to widen the horizon.
It's a brisk, funny piece of competence-porn sci-fi.
Cynical as I am about how monster-budget blockbusters have come to dominate the studio mind-set, I can't imagine anyone not liking this one.
This is science fiction for sophisticated audiences and, as such, a fulfilling and satisfying experience.
Hell, I'm scared of simply sleeping outdoors and I walked out of the movie with just the tiniest daydream of strapping myself into a rocket and shooting for the stars (ideally with Matt Damon as my co-pilot).