Parents' Guide to

The Martian

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Excellent space thriller mixes peril, charm, real science.

Movie PG-13 2015 141 minutes
The Martian Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 50 parent reviews

age 12+

Twists and turns that keeps you in your seat

After watching Interstellar I am forever apprehensive about seeing Matt Damon in space. What is his "real" motivation? But he establishes that he is a different character, but similar to Will Smith I ask the question...isn't there anyone else that can fill that role? The film has a lot of action and keeps you on the edge of your seat...even when you are fairly confident you know how it will turn out. The journey is still quite engaging. Although I understand the impulse of wanting to know "where are they now?" I think the film ending panders to Hollywood sentimentality.
age 10+

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (50):
Kids say (154):

Damon's charm, humor, and gravitas make this smart, action-packed adaptation an all-around perfect film for families with curious, science-loving teens and older tweens. It's equal parts Cast Away, Apollo 13, and Gravity: Like Tom Hanks in the former, Damon must portray the evolution of someone left for dead, but Watney's situation doesn't allow him to sit around eating tropical fruit; he must work hard every single day to ensure he's not going to die. And while the movie isn't ceaselessly intense like Gravity, there are dizzyingly tense parts in store for those who haven't read the book and don't know what happens. As for the Apollo 13 comparison, that (along with Damon's performance) is where The Martian proves remarkable: It focuses not just on Watney's survival, but also on how the ground teams at NASA and at Jet Propulsion Laboratory work nonstop to come up with solutions to bring him home.

The acting ensemble is terrific. In addition to Damon and the Areas 3 crew, led by Chastain and Peña, the all-star cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Mars mission director, Jeff Daniels as the cautious head of NASA, Kristen Wiig as a put-upon NASA public-relations director (and the only non-scientist in the movie), and Sean Bean as the brash Ares 3 flight director. But in the end, of course, this is Damon's show, and he doesn't disappoint; he's funny, smart, and generally so charming that viewers will be with Watney every step of the way. The only music he can listen to is Lewis' impressive digital collection of disco, and the '70s soundtrack provides surprisingly perfect accompaniment to Watney's various challenges, like "Hot Stuff" when he figures out a way to keep warm, or the end-credits song, which is too perfect to spoil. There are few movies that have it all: big-budget artistry, wonderful performances, humor, and real heart, but with The Martian, Ridley Scott has managed to make his best film since Black Hawk Down.

Movie Details

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