I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Martian

tn_themartiana.k.a. Get Your Ass From Mars

THE MARTIAN is what you get with old master Ridley Scott working from a good script (by Drew Goddard, director of THE CABIN IN THE WOODS) based on a book with a real solid, simple premise: an astronaut is left for dead on Mars and is intent on surviving. It’s like ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, but without a monkey! That’s the modern twist. No monkeys.

etAs you know, Matt Damon (HAPPY FEET TWO, HEREAFTER) plays the astronaut, Mark Watney. Just like my boy E.T., Watney is a botanist who’s just minding his own business being on a space mission collecting samples when something bad happens and the crew has to do an emergency take off, and then he doesn’t get on board fast enough. Unfortunately there’s no little Mars boy to hide him in the closet, feed him candy and dress him up as a ghost (or maybe those scenes were cut), but he does use existing equipment to jury-rig a means of communication to let the people back home know to come get him. And then he waits it out.

He has a limited supply of rations, and a long window before any theoretical rescue mission could possibly arrive. So, using seemingly pretty scientifically plausible methods, he figures out ways to use what he has to create more food, water, etc., and to deal with the other problems that arise, of which there are many. He’s in space, for crying out loud. Space is a motherfucker. He doesn’t even have to come across any Ghosts of Mars, there’s all kinds of other problems there. And we learn that a roll of tape is the most important tool anybody could have, followed by clear plastic/construction film.

Meanwhile there are people on earth: NASA director Jeff Daniels, PR lady Kristen Wiig, Mars Mission head Chiwetel Ejiofor (REDBELT), other NASA guy Sean Bean, put-upon engineering genius Benedict Wong (PROMETHEUS, SUNSHINE), etc. Once somebody figures out that Watney is still alive they debate about how he could possibly be rescued, whether or not it’s even worth trying, and also whether and when to tell the crew, who are still in space thinking their friend and colleague is dead. They don’t always make the right decisions at first, but they work at it.

mp_themartianThere are numerous orders barked, scientists sweating over seemingly impossible edicts, ever-shrinking time windows, dangerous short cuts, lightning bolts of inspiration, and amazing feats of engineering and number crunching pulled off by the skin of some smart person’s teeth. It’s like APOLLO 13 in space! Or whatever. Alot of this movie is like that great part in APOLLO 13 where a bunch of dudes with glasses and ties are given a pile of crap and they have to MacGyver it into something a guy can use in space to save his ass. Or the guy in space has to figure it out himself.

Also you could say it’s DIE HARD on Mars, but with no bad guys. He’s a reluctant hero in the wrong place at the wrong time – the place happens to be Mars and the time is after everybody else left. Like John McClane, Mark Watney seems like an everyman even while accomplishing the extraordinary. A big part of the appeal of the movie is a smart ass sense of humor and a modern nerd vernacular. Watney explains his methods in goofy log videos where he makes grim jokes and uses language like concluding a monologue about the uphill battles he faces with “So… yeah. Yeah.”

We only hope we could have the same type of tenacity to survive if we were in that situation. (Which we wouldn’t. Let’s be honest, we wouldn’t be invited on a manned mission to Mars, you guys. No offense.)

In Seattle I probly run into more computer geniuses than science geniuses, but I think they share a similar humor, so I buy that Watney is a guy who makes jokes about Iron Man and pirates, and on earth they talk about Lord of the Rings. And if we ever saw them at home at least one of these characters would be wearing a t-shirt they bought on the internet that makes some joke combining Dr. Who with Back to the Future or some shit. Which is their right.

card_desolationMore humor comes from the way the Ares III crew communicate mainly through shit talk, even when they’re first reunited. Their bond is apparent while their words are all insults. If you saw the trailer you know the crew get involved again later on. Here they all discuss the danger and make the mutual decision to commit mutiny for an extremely risky rescue mission. I thought this was an interesting counterpoint to PROMETHEUS, where everybody but selfish Charlize agrees to give up their lives to kamikaze the ship into the prometheuses or whatever.

There’s also a running joke about Watney being stuck with only disco music to listen to, because that’s all the captain brought with her on the mission. I’m not sure why nobody else would have their own files, it’s not like they’re heavy. But it’s a great idea because, like the mix tape in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it’s an excuse to put an unexpected soundtrack onto a space movie. I wish I hadn’t heard what song was gonna play on the end credits, because it’s all worth it for that punchline. But even better it’s a set up to knowingly use corny music and still be completely sincere about it. I don’t think there’s any winking when a montage of international cooperation plays out to the tune of “Love Train” by the O’Jays. THE MARTIAN is saying “fuck it, you can laugh at me but I really believe in people all over the world joining hands to form a love train.”

As with any movie like this there have been all kinds of articles that I have not read addressing how scientifically accurate or inaccurate it is. I’m guessing they said “more accurate than most,” but that’s none of my business. I do not have a scientific mind, so all I can offer is what I know from movies. And I can say that when he has to do painful surgery on himself to remove a piece of shrapnel in his abdomen, he pulls it out with tongs and then you bet your ass he looks around for a metal canister to drop it into. Clank. Thank the Lord they brought that with them on this mission otherwise what the fuck would he do, just put it on the table? No, he’d have to put it back in I think. I’m not sure.

On a technical level everything on screen is absolutely top shelf. The spaceships and space suits and space storms and what not look perfect. Like with PROMETHEUS Scott thought it would be cool to actually get off his fuckin ass and figure out how to use 3D cameras instead of pay computer guys to fake it all later after he’s done, so it looks really good in that respect. There are scenes on the Hermes space ship where the astronauts are floating around, and I assumed they had to be done APOLLO 13 style – filmed during short bursts of actual weightlessness – but I looked it up and they weren’t. So good job on that, whoever figured out how to make it look like badass Jessica Chastain (MAMA) was flying intently down a tube and pushing off of things and what not.

It’s hard not to compare THE MARTIAN to INTERSTELLAR. Both have Damon as a stranded astronaut, and both feature the great Chastain (I’m glad she gets to go into space in this one). Only one has robots, so points to INTERSTELLAR for that one. I’m surprised to be saying this, but of the two the more reality-based, less-poetic THE MARTIAN is more my speed. They both glorify science, engineering and specifically NASA. But INTERSTELLAR does it partly with some bullshit about “maybe love is science though also you guys, ever think about that?” I didn’t think THE MARTIAN took any big leaps like that.

They also approach the issue with very different attitudes. THE MARTIAN is much more optimistic. INTERSTELLAR shows us a world badly damaged by our failure to use science, THE MARTIAN just shows us a positive example. It’s optimistic. It believes that when somebody is in trouble the rest of humanity will try to help.

Except for Jeff Daniels. Fuck that guy.

To me this is mostly a movie about problem solving and teamwork. Watney puts his mind to solving problem after problem. The NASA people have to find ways to combine the right combination of ideas, even cooperating with the Chinese space agency. Different plans are presented and debated, sometimes combined. At the end it’s a nice lesson that obviously could be applied to any world problem, notably climate change. So in a way I think it’s about one of the same things that INTERSTELLAR was about, except it doesn’t have to come right out and say it.

Still, it’s kinda sad that we need a movie to tell us that we are smart and cooperate to solve world problems, so hopefully before too long the message of this one will seem kinda quaint. But even then it will be a fun movie to watch.

P.S. Eddy Ko, star of John Woo’s HEROES SHED NO TEARS, is in this movie. Now are you sold?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 9th, 2015 at 10:50 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

34 Responses to “The Martian”

  1. Can I say that I’m really excited to see Kristen Wiig in that movie? Her comedy style, especially when she decides to just make weird faces and talk in a strange voice, can be VERY grating (although admittedly also damn funny at times), but whenever she plays a real human being, doesn’t matter if its in a drama or a comedy, she is damn fucking great and in that mode, she is actually one of my favourite actresses.

  2. When I saw this in the theater and he pulled out the shrapnel and put it in the metal container, I laughed and said to myself, “I bet Vern is going to love that. I hope he mentions it in his review.”

  3. My biggest problem with The Martian was a failure of the plot (which I suppose came from the book that I’ll one day read).

    There are no consequences. Every time something goes wrong, they ALWAYS has an answer. No one dies. No one loses a finger. No one really suffers any non-monetary loss as a result of Watney being stuck in space, or as a result of the attempts at rescue. Everything just goes right all the time. Watney, the botanist, can save himself from nearly being impaled. Watney, the botanist, can patch up a space station that just blew up. Watney, the botanist, plays Iron Man and propels himself to safety in outer space. Watney just knows everything and can do everything.

    Think about Cast Away. That’s a stranded movie that has consequences. The crew of the plane dies when it crashes. Noland has NOTHING on that island but his wits and some FedEx items he recovered and the shoes of a fallen pilot. Lots of shit REALLY goes wrong. He has to knock out his own tooth. He cuts his foot on coral. He has to knock out an infected tooth. He cuts his hand trying to build a fire. Later on, he contemplates, and attempts, suicide because he just can’t do it any longer-but he holds on. Then, he makes friends with a volleyball that has a bloody hand print. We CARE about Wilson-think about it-this movie makes us care about a volleyball. When that volleyball floats away during Noland’s escape attempt, he feels it and so do we. And even when Noland makes it home, he has to start piecing things back together, including finding out his wife moved on-and he HAS to move on from it, despite her being the 1 thing that kept him going.

    Interstellar had consequences. Coop had to leave his kids and father indefinitely in order to try to save them. One man dies after being swept away on a planet with mountainous tidal waves. Another dies from a fallen astronaut’s exploding robot trap. Then the fallen ‘naut dies due to his own arrogance. Yes, I agree the ending of Interstellar is very lackluster, but this movie had REAL consequences when things went wrong. There wasn’t always a backup plan. There wasn’t always an alternative.

    Another beef I had was the predictability. This movie seriously signaled everything that was about to happen like a bad pass in basketball. We always knew right when something bad was about to happen. We always knew when plan A wasn’t going to work, so there HAD to be a plan B. At one point, when Jeff Daniels and NASA were hashing out their plan to get supplies to Watney, he say something like “this will work, unless something goes wrong” or something like that. That like just screamed “ok, something is about to go wrong,” then it cuts to Mars and the space station entrance explodes.

    It’s not like Gone Girl, where I was wrong every step of the way. Every time I thought I had that movie figured out, I was wrong, BUT I LIKED IT! It kept me on the edge of my seat.

    I get that not every movie has to be a suspense thriller. But what fun is a movie where everything goes “right” so easily?

    And don’t get me wrong-I LIKED this movie. It was fun to watch. It was charming. It was funny. It was well-acted and well cast. I just wanted to feel like the things that happened along the way actually mattered.

  4. I got sent a review copy of the book years ago. Got about two lines into before the jokey narrator killed it for me. (I recall my Strunk & White: “Do not affect a breezy tone.”) Combine that with Ridley Scott, who’s batting about .140 for movies I’ll ever be bothered to watch more than once and I kind of have a chip on my shoulder about this movie. Maybe someday I’ll get over it.

  5. The Original Paul

    October 9th, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    I used to like the “confined space” movie, until BURIED came along and spoiled them for me. From Vern’s review this sounds like the anti-BURIED, so I’m kinda intrigued, despite the negative comments. (Ok, I guess the vast emptiness of space is not exactly “confined”, but it’s one guy trapped in appalling circumstances and with little hope of rescue, etc. You know what I mean.) The predictability could kill it for me, but otherwise… yeah, I might check this one out. Haven’t seen it advertised over here at all thus far though.

  6. MB – what you’re describing about the lack of consequences is part of what I think makes it refreshing. It’s a movie that says “everything is going to be okay.” Even when it seems you are absolutely fucked, do not give up. You can do it. If all movies were like that maybe it would be a problem, but like you say – all those other movies you listed did it the regular way.

  7. I’ve read the book, but I haven’t seen this one yet. I’d like to do a side-by-side viewing with Gerry and see how the desert cinematography compares. There’s even a part in Gerry where they talk about video games; not sure if they do that in the Martian.

  8. MB, it’s funny because one of the reasons why I couldnt stand Armegeddon is that no matter they do somebody dies. If that was more realistic and nobody dying in the Martian unrealistic, then way more people in the world would be dead due to problems. Nobody died in Apollo 13. Did that upset you?

  9. Vern, will you be reviewing SICARIO? It might just be the Badass Cinema film of the year.

  10. Watney, the botanist, is also Watney, the mechanical engineer. Every astronaut on a mission like this has two specialties. Watney was the jack-of-all-trades, and was expected to be able to solve lots of problems (if they came up) with his mechanical engineering ability. This is explained early in the book. I watched the movie and started reading the book the same day, so I’m not sure if that’s covered at all in the movie, but that helps explain why he “knows everything and can do everything”.

  11. Jeff Daniels didn’t want to save Damon because Christopher Lloyd is still his favorite Martian.

  12. @Scarhead-the movie doesn’t tell us that. I guess we have to assume that since he’s in space, he’s got to be pretty skilled and know some things…but he just seems to know EVERYTHING. There’s nothing this guy can’t do.

    @Sternshein and Vern-I have no problem with happy endings. I just never got the impression that Watney was ever absolutely fucked. No matter what happens, he’s able to “science the shit out of it.” Like-EVERYTHING that happens. It just lacked REAL tension to me. None of the struggles FELT real-Watney always has a trump card for his problems. Back on earth, there was never a deadline that meant anything-we always knew that no matter how little time they had, they’d meet the deadline. No matter how little hope they had, They always found a way. I never felt like Watney might not make it. I don’t have a problem with Watney living.

  13. “I just never got the impression that Watney was ever absolutely fucked. No matter what happens, he’s able to “science the shit out of it.””

    This is made explicit, in fact, in the closing scene where Watney tells his students that they will face death at some point but hey don’t worry if you just solve enough problems you won’t die. Which typifies the bullshit this movie is selling and basically confirms MB’s complaint that there aren’t any real stakes.

  14. MB that may be why I liked this so much. I always found that Armageddon model of “but something went wrong” so contrived it’s frustrating. Even Gravity, although its the best version of “what fucked up this time?”

    Sure it doesn’t have to be either extreme but The MARTIAN is refreshing.

    And let me defend Jeff Daniels. He risked his job skipping that inspection to make the deadline. Everyone risked something.

  15. I loved this movie, really loved it, just an all around entertaining and endearing movie that really raised my spirits, I hate to use the word heartwarming because it sounds corny, but it definitely applies to this movie.

    MB – I disagree with you that the fact that no one dies is a problem, given the tone of the movie I think if someone got killed it would have completely ruined it and I think given the context that it’s a guy surviving on Mars versus a guy surviving on an island means they couldn’t go too extreme with the problems he faces otherwise it would not have been plausible that he could survive it, the more they raised the stakes the more ridiculous whatever solutions he came up with would have become, I think the movie strikes just the right balance.

    I do agree with you however that CASTAWAY is a great fucking movie, a lot of people only remember it as that “Tom Hanks movie with the volleyball” which is a shame because it’s a legitimately well made movie.

    also fyi Leather Goddesses of Phobos is a real game, it was pretty cool to see a shout-out to that game in this movie.

  16. This movie isn’t a patch on Interstellar, but it’s still pretty good.

    It’s just a nice breezy watch. I can see this movie being very re-watchable.
    The real problem is there’s not really very many highs or truly memorable scenes.

    Like, it’s probably more consistent of a movie than something like Interstellar, but it doesn’t have the emotional highs, the awesome music, the sense of being in truly uncharted territory.
    And it also doesn’t have the crazy extended set-pieces of Gravity.

    So ultimately, Interstellar > Gravity > The Martian, but it’s still a fun watch

  17. This sounds pretty interesting but as petty as it sounds I truly can’t stand Matt Damon as a person anymore and just the sight of him now pretty much repulses me so I don’t think I’ll be able to sit through it. I usually am very good at separating people from their art too but this guy really seems to be an exception.

  18. I feel like we live in an age where people say “That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.” It’s nice to see not only an example of people not accepting “the way it is” and working towards a solution, but also possibly inspiring people to be more proactive on a micro level.

  19. I didn’t realize the garbage piece of shit movie that was “Interstellar” still had apologists defending it. I just assumed everyone had moved on. I read the novel of “The Martian” in a single day, it was an incredibly compelling read and what makes it work is a) the humor and b) seeing the realistic way Watney solves all his problems. Several times reading it I reflected how if I were in same circumstances, I would just give up and die. But this guy is not like me or most people–he refuses to be beaten by his predicament. The ways he gets out of it never felt contrived or clumsy to me. Andy Weir sets up a believable set of resources that would exist in a Mars exploration, then throws clusterfuck after clusterfuck at Watney to see how he can maneuver out of it. I have a degree in aerospace engineering (that I admittedly never used but I still got a B+ in astrodynamics goddamnit) and it all felt plausible, which is pretty remarkable. The book is about not giving up in the most dire of circumstances. I never doubted reading it that he would be successfully rescued but the fun was seeing how it would happen without destroying credulity. I guess if you don’t have a science background it could all just seem like “magic”. The most implausible thing in the book is the disaster that strands him on Mars in the first place (the planet’s atmosphere doesn’t allow for strong storms) but the rest of the story was on point. Seeing the film version tomorrow and am excited to see how it compares.

  20. SPOILER

    SPOILER

    Funniest scene:

    Donald Glover geeks out and decided to call his ring shaped slingshot gravity assist maneuver “Project Elrond.”

    Kristen Wiig goes “What the fuck is Elrond.”

    So Sean Bean speaks up and explains the basics of the Council of Elrond and what it has to do with a ring.

    I laughed out loud in the theater.

    You should know Sean!

    SPOILER

    SPOILER

    Sean Bean does not die in this movie.

  21. @Griff-I’m not upset that no one died. I’m just upset there weren’t any lasting consequences other than some $$ spent and a dime-sized scar Watney will have had on his torso. I’m not saying someone HAS to do die for there to be consequences, or tension, or excitement-it’s just one way we see shit going wrong. It would have been hard to justify any further NASA missions if 2-3 people died trying to save Watney, and we’d be questioning if Watney was worth their lives. It would have been too much like Saving Private Ryan.

    When Hanks had to knock out his own infected tooth, he passes out because he hates dental stuff THAT much. Damon does self-surgery, and it doesn’t seem to phase him afterwards. Oh, it bleeds a little bit later on…no big deal, he got dis!

    I guess, in general, maybe I just felt like the movie was marketed one day, and we got another. I felt like I was expecting a serious space movie, and I got a comedy instead. I guess if you watch the movie with that in mind, it’s fine.

  22. I enjoyed The Martian. Matt Damon played that line between being a genuine smart ass, and an annoying smart ass really well.

    One thing that this film (and Interstellar) sort of misses is the psychological side of things. Surely being alone for 520 “Sols” would make you slightly odd. How about that dude in Interstellar whose left on his own with those robots for 25 years in Interstellar. No, he’s cool. Just got some gray hairs.

    I sort of expect Whatney to be all “get the hell away from me” to the rest of humanity when he lands. Surely being alone for so long, he’d be a bit weirded out by all the people trying to kiss his ass. But no, he’s cool. Back to work.

    Plus, the buddy-ness of the Hermes crew. Come on, you’ve been with these people for years and years in a confined space. I mean, I love my girlfriend and my friends, but I’d have to kill them if I was forced to spend 5 years in a small spaceship with them.

    I kind of agree with MB – there’s never a sense he’s not going to get off the planet. But the joy is the ride, the discovery of just how the hell he’s going to do it. The Chinese stuff was kind of convenient, but hey.

    It looked awesome, and I bought into the story hook line and sinker. I was please he got rescued, and even more happy that Sean Bean didn’t die in the end. How many times can you say that?

  23. Pretty great movie and they followed the book well. The appeal of the book for me wasn’t how he was up against desperate odds but how every time he encountered an issue he found a scientific way to solve it. The book shows all the math and it was kind of like “McGuyver on Mars” and that was part of the fun of it for me. It’s kind of how humans conquered space – figure out exactly what you need to solve your problem and then try the best way to get it. He needed to survive and got it down to the number of potatoes he’d have to eat to get the lowest amount of calories to survive until he could be rescued. It was little things like that that formed the heart of the book and made it unique.

    Mark Whatney “scienced the shit out of” all of his problems and kept in good spirits, and that’s what makes him a fun protagonist to follow. Matt Damon was superb and so was the rest of the cast. A nice science fiction movie with a good message, great cast and effects, and good for the whole family without being stupid. I wouldn’t mind some more of these.

  24. I enjoyed Jason Bourne on Mars, especially the part where he finds WALL-E, but the lack of aliens in this film disappointed me. Couldn’t Scott have worked in a little xenomorph cameo. Maybe have a Xeno watch from a rock as Bourne drives by on his space buggy. Hopefully it’ll be in the deleted scenes, or maybe he’s saving it for the sequel.

  25. So the 3D looks good in this? I must really have broken eyes then because to me the 3D made Mars look like a soundstage with a fake backdrop, which I know it wasn’t. I thought I was cured but I guess it’s back to 3D jail for me.

    The storm looked cool though, a lot of debris flying at various levels, but still not sticky outty.

  26. Pretty good movie, though I think there was a bit of a missed opportunity to show the physical and psychological damage that three years of solitude and starvation does to a person. All we see is that he lost some weight and fucked up his teeth. I don’t need some “Survivor Type by Stephen King” level stuff, but Matt Damon really didn’t seem all that fazed by the hardship. Would have raised the stakes some.

    Also, it would have been cool if there were a post-credits scene where Sean Bean has a heart-attack or something. 99% of viewers would be mystified, but the movie nerds would love it.

  27. Watched this today. This felt pretty far removed from Scott’s previous forays into sci-fi, in fact far removed from most of what I’ve seen of his work. It’s closer in tone to something like MATCHSTICK MEN or A GOOD YEAR, but with added peril and some of the best space visuals this side of GRAVITY.

  28. I caught this one a few days ago, I liked it overall and I think it’s a less sloppy movie than Interstellar, but Interstellar had so many more emotional highs for me that it stuck to my ribs better. Plus that soundtrack in Interstellar is glorious and really just heightened everything. I’m glad that we’re getting so many solid sci-fi movies lately. It seemed like for a long time it was barren, then movies like Moon started slipping in and now we’ve got the survive-in-space triple feature of Interstellar, Gravity, and The Martian.

  29. “I don’t need some “Survivor Type by Stephen King” level stuff”

    Lady Fingers, they taste like Lady Fingers!

  30. Absolutely everything agree with everything Vern says here, especially the comparisons with Interstellar. Also notice how fucking *nasty* and arrogant Interstellar is about its science worship shit, too. The moon landing hoax shit, NASA having to go into hiding due to the disgusting, unappreciative masses on the outside, a world that hates science, blah blah blah fuck you, Nolan, that shit convinces nobody.

    But yeah, The Martian’s science worship might also have issues, but at least it’s sweet-natured, and funny, and love actually is the answer, but it isn’t ***THE FUCKING ANSWER*** like it is in Interstellar. Fucking Nolan. >:(

  31. Finally saw this a couple weeks ago. I have to go with MB on this one. Liked it; didn’t love it.

    Liked:
    -Looks fantastic.
    -Great cast, top-notch performances, people I like, across the board (except that fuckin’ Jeff Daniels :))
    -Also liked the upbeat, positive message. I can’t tell if it’s me projecting my own angst about aging and whatnot, but I’ve been pessimistic about things for the last 5 or so years (everything from climate change to smart phone addiction). Pessimism accomplishes nothing, and a positive, problem-solving, can-do attitude often does, as much as I hate to surrender to cliche. A film like this is inspiring in that “stop being such a whiny bitch and try to do something positive” outlook that it exudes–inspiring without being preachy. I need more of that.

    Didn’t Like:
    -Just, what MB said. After this film there was this whole “Mary Sue” controversy about Rey from Force Awakens. I don’t really have a considered judgment about that, but Mark Whatney in the Martian is a total Mary Sue. From a run-time perspective, he handles each of his many setbacks with such consistent aplomb and efficiency (an extremely versatile botanist, this one) that it gives MacGyver a serious run for his money. It’s all just a little too shiny and plucky to have much real weight, and the emotional range that the script offers Damon is pretty much confined to minor variations on “resolute,” with occasional minor excursions into curious, playful, determined, and even a moment of irked-ness. This guys is pretty much Mr. All-American Prom King / Valedictorian / Boy Scout / Boy Next Door. Not saying there aren’t real guys like this (and maybe a good profile of an astronaut’s disposition), but it makes for a pretty unrelatable journey that feels surprisingly safe and the stakes-less. By half-way through I was virtually certain that he was coming home safely, but the film still went on to exceed my expectations how well everything came off and how generally unscathed everyone came out. As a result, for me it lacks emotional weight or fallout or character development. Cool if treated as “MacGyver in Space” but fairly Hallmark in terms of human drama or depth.

  32. “We only hope we could have the same type of tenacity to survive if we were in that situation. (Which we wouldn’t. Let’s be honest, we wouldn’t be invited on a manned mission to Mars, you guys. No offense.)”

    That is absolutely BRILLIANT! Geez, what an observation and well said.

  33. “And we learn that a roll of tape is the most important tool anybody could have, followed by clear plastic/construction film.”

    Not just any old tape, Vern

    Handyman Corner "Duct Tape Spare"

    From Episode 13 of the Red Green Show, Season 1 (1991), available on DVD from redgreenshop.com

  34. Caught up on this one, enjoyed it and its upbeat tone a lot, don’t have much to add, but the German title card gave me a good laugh.

    The full title over here is DER MARSIANER – RETTET MARK WATNEY (The Martian – Save Mark Watney), but the title card lacks the hyphen and writes it as:

    DER MARSIANER
    rettet mark watney

    Thanks to German grammar, it makes it look like the title is THE MARTIAN SAVES MARK WATNEY, which also could have been a cool movie IMO.

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