The time that the genre “science fiction” consisted of space epics has clearly been closed a while ago. More ‘serious stories’ have been worked out for a while more trying to bend the genre to ‘science fact’, a story that seems probable with things that can happen nowadays or in the near future.
The beginning of the film reminds quite a bit of “Mission To Mars” from 2010 and therewith perhaps one of the first films in this ‘new style scifi’. There are also things incommon with “Gravity” (2013).
During a mission to Mars, the grew is caught in a storm. One crew member is hit by flying debris and assumed dead. The rest of the crew is just in time to early start their way back to earth. The presumed dead member is Mark Watney played by Matt Damon. He survived the storm only to be woken up by his space suit warning him the oxygen level is getting low. He manages to get back to camp.
There are a few strange flaws in the story. The first weird thing is that NASA somehow thought to set up camps for future missions and in these camps everything is available except a way to contact earth. So Watney is alive with the food supplied of his departed fellow crew members, but without a way of letting NASA know this. What follows is an elaborate attempt to survive until the next mission is to come to Mars four years ahead.
The inventive Watney first manages to grow potatoes and then even finds a way to contact NASA. This encourages NASA to start a rescue mission. Of course not everything goes as planned to some extra drama and tension could be added to the film. The result is a fair scifi drama with a few interesting scenarios and a couple of (very) illogical elements.
The 8.1 on IMDb is a bit too much praise for me, on a scale of 10 I would come to a 7.0.