Meh. I had the same feeling watching “Gravity”. Space suits, gravity simulation, Jeff Daniels woodenly portraying a NASA administrator. Plucky astronauts. Insurmountable odds. Dangerous antenna wires. Suit malfunctions (but not wardrobe malfunctions, in this kind of movie). Lots of nice CG. Some technically inaccurate whoppers in service of the plot. After all, they make it home.
The main whopper in “The Martian” is the dust storm, which apparently wouldn’t have enough force on Mars to do the damage portrayed. Secondary whoppers: (1) The size and luxury of the mother ship and (2) They didn’t do Mars gravity which is 1/3rd Earth gravity, it looked the same as Earth.
My wife liked it and is looking forward to taking our son to it, who is in 2nd grade. For a 2nd grader this movie will be both inoffensive and awesome.
Here are some references:
- NY Times review
- Village Voice review
- The XKCD cartoon review, to my mind the most concise
- The Guardian review of the science
- Very long New Yorker takedown