The Martian is ultimately a movie about survival. Presumed dead and abandoned on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left trying to figure out how to survive on the unforgiving planet long enough for help to arrive - while his team scrambles for a way to save his life. Based on the Andy Weir novel of the same name, the trailers have so far shown a mix of bleakness and light, with Watney's wry humor serving to cut the desperation of the situation.
While nothing about this movie screams comfort and safety, we're now getting a closer look at just how stacked the odds are. Not only against Watney, but for the entire rescue mission as his friends and colleagues evaluate the impossibility of his situation.
20th Century Fox has released a new TV trailer for The Martian, and while the footage is similar to what we've seen in previous feature-length trailers, this one emphasizes the multitude of different elements that threaten his hard won survival. The oxygenator breaking down would cause suffocation, a breach in his shelter would cause him to implode, and there is always the matter of not starving to death. It's grim, and no one on Earth seems especially optimistic about his chances of survival.
The Martian is another genre movie about space and the unknown from director Ridley Scott (The Counselor), who previously directed the sci-fi hits Alien and Prometheus. This is his first time working with Damon, and the two seem well suited to one another. The supporting cast is outstanding with many major actors taking on supporting roles in the film. While Damon is alone on Mars, the rest of the solar system contains Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sean Bean.
There have been a variety of space thrillers released recently, and The Martian doesn't seem to closely resemble any of them. While it has the same life and death stakes as Gravity, the trailers lack a 'hold your breath until it's done' sense of terror. The film certainly has its share of science jargon, but it doesn't look like it will spend an overlong amount of time explaining exactly why things are theoretically sound, as we saw in Interstellar.
Of course, this could be yet another rendition of the 'survivor struggling to return home' story that we've seen many times before. So much of The Martian will hinge on Damon's performance, and if he is unable to capture his usual strength and charisma the movie could easily sink. However, based on Damon's terrific performance history, this film could be poised for success.
The Martian will see theatrical release in the U.S. starting on October 2nd, 2015.