“The Martian” stars Matt Damon, whose name cannot be uttered without thinking of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Good Will Hunting”. Now he’s teaming with Ridley Scott, who’s been desperate for a hit after recent misfires such as”Exodus” and the God-awful “The Counselor”. Damon plays astronaut Mark Watney, a NASA botanist who has been left for dead on the Red Planet. The thing is: he’s very much alive and he’s about to “science the shit out of it” in order to survive. The movie could have sucked. Never mind that Damon has never been better (he’s actually terrific). But “The Martian” grows on you. In adapting Andy Weir’s novel, director Ridley Scott dodges the space clichés. No aliens, no weird discoveries. Just the sound of an empty planet and Damon talking to himself while listening to cheesy disco music. Sounds dull? It isn’t. Damon conducts a master class in acting by showing a man who is far from giving up. It is essential that we identify with his character and connect with his roller-coaster adventure otherwise the movie wouldn’t work nearly as well as it does. Only the climax, which has Hollywood written all over it, is predictable. Until then, “The Martian” is funny, fierce and entertaining. Welcome back, Ridley Scott.