(PG-13, 134 minutes, Fox): Matt Damon stars in the Ridley Scott-directed adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel about an astronaut who is stranded on Mars. The movie is a smart, exhilarating, often disarmingly funny return to classic adventures of yore. Imagine George Clooney’s wisecracking character from “Gravity” fetching up on Mars, only to be the subject of an “Apollo 13”-style rescue mission, and you get a sense of what part of fictional outer space “The Martian” occupies. Refreshingly irreverent but unapologetically worshipful when it comes to honoring real-life science, this bracing riff on exploration, gumption and ingenuity shows what Big Movies can do when they resist taking themselves too seriously. What could have been a disposable genre exercise or fashionably po-faced downer instead is a fun, rousing, thoroughly entertaining kick in the pants.
Contains strong profanity, injury images, and brief nudity. Extras: Featurettes “Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction” and “Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes”; five Theatrical In-World pieces: “Ares III: Farewell,” “The Right Stuff,” “Ares: Our Greatest Adventure,” “Leave Your Mark,” “Bring Him Home”; “Ares III: Refocused”; gag reel, production gallery. Washington Post
‘Hotel Transylvania 2’
(PG, 89 minutes, Sony): Sequel to the 2012 animated hit “Hotel Tranyslvania” gives Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) the dilemma of a half-human grandson. It’s rare to have a movie sequel be better than the original, but “Hotel Transylvania 2” is much funnier, more colorful and more original this second time around. The director has layered the comedy so well, it’s difficult to see all of the funny material happening in the background through a single viewing.
Contains mild rude humor and frightening creatures. Extras: Fifth Harmony music video: “I’m in Love With a Monster”; commentary with Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel and Allen Covert. Blu-ray: “Sing Along with Monster Scary-Oke!”; deleted scenes; “How to Throw the Ultimate Monster Party”; “How to Draw Your Favorite Characters” and more. The Fresno Bee
Also out Jan. 12
- “The American Friend”
- “Army Dog”
- “Memories of the Sword”
- “Sinister 2”
- “Duck Dynasty Wedding Special”
- “Power Rangers Dino Charge: Unleashed”