Movie date: The Martian (PG13)
STARRING: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
THE SKINNY: On a manned mission to Mars, NASA astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead and abandoned by his team members after a storm. Armed with limited food and resources, he has to find ways to stay alive as he awaits his rescue. With a rescue mission that is near impossible, his return to Earth becomes a growing challenge.
Mars rocks, and now we finally have a movie that's worthy of it.
There have been so many terrible Mars movies - John Carter, Mission To Mars, Ghosts Of Mars - that there's been talk of an actual curse.
The Martian proves there is no curse. This is flat out a great flick.
In his younger days, director Ridley Scott proved himself to be one of the greatest science fiction film-makers with Alien and Blade Runner.
He took a decades-long hiatus before coming back to the genre with Prometheus, which was okay.
The Martian sees him back in full form.
It's not as dark and edgy as his earlier work.
The story is straightforward, with no twists or turns, but keeps the viewer fascinated.
We admire Damon's positivity, intelligence and tenacity, and we want him to survive.
Meanwhile, we are treated to stunning Martian vistas.
Scott captures the stark vermilion beauty of the planet.
The place comes across as eerie and alien, but at the same time it seems like a real place.
An epic space adventure with a warm human heart, The Martian represents the very best of what Hollywood can do.
-- JASON JOHNSON
What is it with Damon being left alone in space?
Does somebody hate him that much?
Actually, I did - when he had an uncredited cameo as the selfish, conniving Dr Mann in last year's sci-fi epic Interstellar, who was eventually killed.
But in The Martian, you'll be rooting for him with such fervour, you'll surprise yourself.
As someone forced to come up with ingenious ways to stay alive, Damon plays struggling, helpless Watney with true conviction.
I found myself stopping short of victoriously pumping my fist in the air when he succeeded.
When he failed, I was crushed - and I am not even the one fighting for my life on an inhospitable environment.
Carrying the weight of the movie single-handedly on his shoulders is a heavy responsibility that Damon executes well, especially since the movie hinges greatly on his ability to evoke empathy from the audience solely through his performance.
In fact, his solid acting even eclipses that impressive, ripped body he maintained for the role.
Watch and weep. At least, I did.
I was such a teary mess that even a two-second surprise cameo of Damon's bare bum could not salvage things.
-- NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN