The Martian

Science, the final frontier.

Stranded on Mars after his shipmates think he’s dead and hit the gas pedal to get out of town, quick, Matt Damon finds himself a lonely Robinson Crusoe on the angry red planet.

No big-budget sci-fi epic has spent so much time devoted to the how and why of growing potatoes in a harsh environment, and yet it works.

Director Ridley Scott brings his usual visual panache to the story, while finding an unexpected amount of humor in Damon’s ordeal up among the stars.

A film grandpa and Bill Nye the Science Guy can agree on.

 

Ava

Come for the action, stay for the angst.

This tale of an assassin coming to terms with her life choices does offer its fair share of herky-jerky scenes of Jessica Chastain opening a case of whup-ass.

But it’s actually the quieter moments, such as those where our world-weary hit woman has emotionally-charged conversations with mom Geena Davis and boss John Malkovich that have the biggest impact.

Davis, an action hero from a different era (go watch Cutthroat Island now!) gets to deliver one tightly-wound confessional which will put most of this year’s Oscar contenders to shame.

She shoots, and scores.

Take Shelter

It may not be the end of the world, but you can see it from here.

Maybe.

Michael Shannon, one of my favorites, is plagued by increasingly unsettling dreams and hallucinations, driving him to feverishly construct a storm shelter for a coming apocalypse.

But…

His mother (Kathy Baker) suffers from schizophrenia, and there are hints son may be following mother down a rabbit hole of his own making.

Will he save his family, which includes wife Jessica Chastain and a young deaf daughter, or be their undoing?

Hunker down and wait out the storm as you prepare for the answer.