As you might have known, I went to watch this movie The Martian the other day, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. I held high expectations for this movie, thanks to all those cryptic remarks and glowing reviews by friends and fellow bloggers. I am glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie despite having high expectations. I use the word despite because usually having high expectations is detrimental for me when trying to enjoy a movie, or anything for that matter. I am now reading the original novel by Andy Weir that this movie is adapted from.
I think the main reason why I enjoyed this movie is because it is, well, a movie involving high tech gadgets and outer space, but it is also premised on something that is closer to our planet and time. Instead of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his USS Enterprise, or even a human-Na’vi clone in a moon in the neighboring Alpha Centauri star system, this movie uses space travel technology that we, humans, currently have or are developing. This is the third movie of such kind that I have watched in recent times, the earlier two being Gravity (Sandra Bullock/George Clooney) and Interstellar (Matthew McConaughey/Anne Hathaway), both which I thoroughly enjoyed too.
The landscape in the movie was pretty impressive. The setting is supposed to take place in Acidalia Planitia, a plain in Mars that is surrounded by heavily cratered highland terrains. Although to be honest, I suspect it would be impressive regardless of where they choose as the setting. And to be even more honest, I don’t even know if what I saw in the movie are accurate depictions of the Martian landscape or not. For all I know, I could’ve been staring at the deserts in Nevada, US.
Without revealing too much of a spoiler, the story basically talks about a certain human expedition to planet Mars, encountered a gigantic sandstorm and had to abort their mission and quickly take off some days into the mission, and in their frantic escape, a certain astronaut, Mark Watney, got hit by flying debris in the storm, and the rest of the crew presumed him dead, so they left him behind.
Except he wasn’t. And he woke up the next morning after the storm had subsided to discover he was left alone in Mars.
And that’s where the actual movie starts. This is a movie with a very Robinson Crusoe like theme. Man gets stranded on a remote island with no one else (or in this case, a remote planet). He despairs and records some logs to depict his final days of being alive,
And then resolved to remain alive whatever it takes, for the next 4 years, when the next Mars mission is expected to arrive.
Fortunately for him, their Hab (habitation) was also intact, so at least he had some sort of a home to go back to, with no oxygen concerns.
Also, fortunately for him, he happens to be a botanist, the best on the planet (obviously), so you get to see him science the shit out of planting potatoes as food to sustain himself.
The entire movie is about how shit keeps blowing up and how he has to solve one problem at a time. The recurring message here is that there is always a solution to any problem if you think hard enough and work hard enough. You can either despair, or fight for survival.
There are MANY problems that popped up for Watney to solve in the entire movie. Honestly, I don’t know why people keep harping on the potatoes, I thought it was the least exciting of them all. Why don’t people talk about how he managed to recover and fix a device to enable him to communicate with Earth? Or how he managed to modify a rover with a 50 kilometers range to go 3500 kilometers? Or even how he became Iron Man? Those were all much more exciting to me…
The movie is rather scientific, to be honest. I mean, it is funny. Matt Damon is funny. But the way he solves problems reminds me of my Physics and Chemistry lab back in high school. I think it is good for school kids to watch this movie.
The main difference between the novel and the movie is that the novel tells the story almost entirely on Watney’s perspective. The movie however, has a higher mixture of Watney, and how the people on Earth devises plans to help him survive, and to rescue him.
Did I mention that this movie is based more on the technology that we have today rather than, say, year 3000? You know, they all want to go and rescue him, bring him home, but it is not as easy as telling his crew mates to turn around and go back to get him. You need to consider the fuel needed for that, and how to reach him in time. Yeah, you can turn around and head back to Mars, but then you’ll run out of fuel and now instead of 1 person, the entire crew will be stranded there. You want to do something as simple as shoot an unmanned probe with food supplies for him, but you need time to build the rocket and cargo ship, and launch it, and it needs to reach him within 400 days, because a late arrival of 20 days means he has starved to death, rendering the exercise pointless. Rescuing someone stranded on Mars is a major logistical challenge, and race against time.
Gosh, I think I have been somewhat technical here. I hope I haven’t revealed too much of a spoiler here. All the images here are taken from the trailer video, so I guess not. No worries, the movie itself won’t make you feel too technical. It is a very funny and entertaining movie, for most parts. It is the novel that is technical.
So… yeah. Go watch the movie. I highly recommend it too!