This is a movie that I have to say that I have a bit of a difficulty in rating. Quite honestly I was sorely tempted to remove a star, or even two stars. Why? Because it is full of Hollywood nonsense, scientific errors, it is rather predictable and it did feel a bit like a Apollo 13 rip-off. Why did I not remove those stars? Well, it is rather entertaining even if, at times, I squirmed in my seat.
The movie starts of with a somewhat implausible event where a unexpected storm hits the Mars camp which forces the ground crew of the Mars mission to hurry back to the launch vehicle before it tilts over. The launch vehicle gradually tilts a degree at the time. Is it just me finding this strange? Would storms on Mars defy the usual rules of weather dynamics that they would exert a constant pressure which would cause a slow but constant tilt of a construct like that. No gusts, no change in pressure? And why would it gradually tilt at all? Once the force would be enough for the landing struts on one side to leave the ground it would pretty much tilt right away. Okay, I am being picky so lets give that a benefit of a doubt for the time being.
Obviously one guy is lost during the dramatic events. This is equally obviously 100% predictable. The fact that the guy is still alive after the rest of the crew blasted off is obviously also 100% predictable but then, this you should have pretty figured out from the title of the move after all.
A lot of the rest of the movie is following this guys quest for survival on Mars using the left over equipment at his disposal and the NASA crew on Earth trying to rescue him. Yes the NASA crew on Earth does discover that he is alive which, again, is pretty much predictable. Of course this gave Hollywood the opportunity to add a utterly dislikable political bureaucrat that is pretty much in the movie for one reason and one reason alone…to be dislikable. Personally I just found him tiresome. But then, Americans seems to like these kind of people given the kind of trash that we see being pushed towards the upcoming presidential elections…from both sides!
There are a lot of good stuff in the movie. Even though it is rather predictable there are some suspense in it, there are a lot of good scenery, and even though you pretty much knows what is going to happen you do feel like cheering for the hero. Given the script I think a lot of the actors did a rather good job of their roles.
If the script writers would have brought on some decent scientific advisors I would say this would have been a great movie but it was frequently goofed up with issues that was just stupid. Like digging down a nuclear reactor a few feet in the ground. What the f… good was that supposed to do? And the constant use of simple plastic and duct tape to seal the environment. Yeah, right. Sure, Mars do have some atmosphere so it is not vacuum we are talking about but then in other scenes they seemed to assume almost zero atmosphere and made quite a bit use of explosive decompression effects.
Okay, okay I am probably nitpicking quite a bit here but, unlike many Science Fiction movies, this one tries to give an impression of being within the realms of realism and it is just too full of classical Hollywood mishaps for my taste.
As I wrote above I still think it is a movie worth watching. It has some suspense, it is well done from a photographic point of view and the actors are doing a decent job. I think 7 out of 10 stars is a fair rating but it should certainly not have more.