*The Martian*

The way the movie is good is almost the opposite of the way the book is good, so re-gear your expectations.  It is the most convincing portrayal of a planet I have seen in cinema.  (Planets, by the way, create erotic bonds stronger than those of actual marriages.)  I enjoyed the homage shots to Bruce Dern and Silent Running, Brian De Palma’s underrated Mars film too.  The horizon images of earth toward the end come as an ecstatic jarring relief.  They are, by the way, aiming for the China market with a plot twist that almost seems satirical except in Beijing it is dead serious.  That this film is sometimes dramatically inert is beside the point, recommended.

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Planets, by the way, create erotic bonds stronger than those of actual marriages.

It would be interesting to know how someone would measure that.

On the downside, I guess we can say "Cor, look at the rings on that" any more.

On the China market point: that was already in the novel, and probably was just another great reason to do this film, from Hollywood's perspective. Isn't that different than the movie itself "aiming for the China market with a plot twist"? It definitely plays much worse in terms of a contrived plot point in the movie, however.

Except that the plot twist in question is actually written into the source material (book), so it cannot entirely be said that the film is aiming for the China market explicitly. Though the Chinese role is seen as much less self-serving in the film.

The CNSA is involved in the book, too, so the extent to which it is a China-oriented twist is arguable.

"...enjoyed the homage shots to Bruce Dern and Silent Running ..." Ah that was an interesting movie.

Yep, and an underrated one. I'm not sure however about Tyler's claim that Mission to Mars was underrated. I've only seen fragments of it, on TV and on an airplane, and didn't feel compelled to watch more.

"Planets, by the way, create erotic bonds stronger than those of actual marriages"
Uranus for sure

Well the book is terrible, so let's hope the movie gets rid of that excruciatingly bad authorial voice and gives us something better. The source material certainly seems like it could be a fantastic movie given the right director.

The book was indeed terrible and I am now forever wary of MR recommendations.

You guys must be a blast at parties.

I found the book to be an entertaining but lightweight, a quick read that was worth the time it took to read it.

Which may make it well-suited to become a successful movie, as there's seldom enough time in a movie to develop a complex novel. Especially a science-fiction novel, where an extensive backstory is necessary to understand the world in which the novel is set.

I read it to my kids as a bedtime story. They were spellbound.

It's not trying to be The Brothers Karamazov; it's a page-turner.

Jeff Daniels is great as the one complex character in the movie, the slippery politician in charge of NASA. Time for Daniels to finally get an Oscar nomination, 32 years after everybody else in Terms of Endearment was showered with Oscar nominations.

I doubt if most of Mars looks as mountainous as it does in the movie. In the book, it appears to be quite flat.

"In the book, it appears to be quite flat."

That's true. I think they basically missed 3 things: Mars can be extremly mountainous. Olympus Mons, the highest vulcano, is up to 25 km high! But the region the book plays in is pretty flat. The 2nd huge flaw is the rocket. The rocket is way too weak to leave Mars. The 3rd thing is radiation. It's just ignored.I guess they missed those 3 things on purpose for storytelling reasons.

Also, there's no attempt to depict the lesser gravity of Mars.

You could do it with wirework and CGI, but it would probably just be expensive and look goofy.

There were very few times showing the gravity would have ever mattered. You don't see him dropping or tossing things around. Matt Damon spent a lot of time placing things, even potatoes on his plate, and Scott probably made him do that on purpose.

The storm upon which the whole scenario is predicated is the worst problem. The actual Martian atmosphere is far too thin to do any of the things portrayed.

None of those objections are correct. It's funny, because there are numerous articles out there, including one in Time, about what The Martian gets wrong, and they tend to the ridiculous.

Anyway, the route covers varied topography, the rocket mods are not unreasonable, and radiation is an over-blown problem looking for funding.

The real problems in the book were the exaggerated power of storms on Mars, the exaggerated ease of use of spacesuits, and a few games played with temperature. I understand the first two were intentional and the latter an accident.

He should have gotten some recognition for "Something Wild" way back when.

Didn't he get an Oscar for Dumb and Dumber?

I'm excited, too.
https://xkcd.com/1536/

Liked the book for its information-heavy take on Martian living but not so much on the simplistic dialogue, characters and story.

So I hoped Scott would take it to another level in terms of portraying the isolation and loneliness of life alone on a planet, and the spirit of exploration that compels people to travel for a year to experience such deprivation.

Something like that opening scene from Prometheus where we soar over a prehistoric planet and the shadow of a starship passes over the valley.

But he didn't. Wasted opportunity.

I'm SO glad that it was nothing like Prometheus. You thought The Martian book had "simplistic dialogue, characters and story"? Perhaps you weren't listening in Prometheus. Plot holes you could drive a truck through, cliched dialogue, muddled plot, people doing things they wouldn't ("let's take off our helmets now!") - it was one of the worst experiences I've ever endured in a cinema.

I thought The Martian was a great book (brilliant premise, strong science, straightforward characters who were recognisable in scientists I've met) and the film is great too - saw it on Saturday. You wanted Scott to depict isolation and loneliness? Yeah, but the film would have had to be about 12 hours long. You're thinking of Interstellar. (Which I also loved, but for different reasons.)

I understand the book was deliberately written to not wallow in isolation and loneliness. Because then it would have, you know, sucked. "Nope, that's not how Mark Watney rolls." - Andy Weir

Any comments on the 3D from anyone? I see it is shown ina non-3D version also. 3D usually annoys me and aI avoid it unless it really adds and is done well (e.g., not in your face).

I watched in 3-D and didn't think there was anything in particular that needed 3-D.

I thought it benefited from 3D. There are a couple of scenes where the 3D really accentuated the vastness of the desolate landscape. That said, the 3D wasn't always perfect. Jeff Daniels looked like a moving cardboard cutout at times, and occasionally the 3D makes you aware you are looking at a model.

I'm with albert; I felt the 3D was a waste of money.

3D ist annoying as hell. I hope this trend will end soon. Like it did in the 50s.

Is it really possible to underrate Mission To Mars? Really?

One star would be too low. A magic fantasy wearing the form of science fiction.

I saw this movie in the theater. At the moment when the cable fails to reach Tim Robbins character - meaning he will die - the crowd burst out into laughter. I have never seen a film so thoroughly lose it's audience as this movie did at that point. So, not underrated.

While I enjoyed the book, I was kind of appalled by the end. How much are they going to spend saving one man's life? It's billions of dollars by the time they are done.

And is this the precedent you want to set -- that no one should ever die in space, no matter how hard you have to work to prevent it? A recipe for painfully slow progress in space.

They made a point that, on a exploration-per-dollar basis, his expedition was cheaper than other missions, because it got extended so long.

Good luck recruiting great astronauts when you let it be known that their's a price point for letting them starve to death.

Do you really think all the existing astronauts have assumed that the government would spend a billion dollars to save them if there were an accident? I think they assume the risks are real and sometimes there's nothing you can do.

Most of the accidents are "nothing you can do" variety. At one point in the book, NASA is convinced that there is nothing they can do, not even for infinite money to bring him back, and they don't start lighting money on fire to change that.

"Guy stranded and possibly going to starve to death in 2 years" is a different kettle of fish. Once the public sees him there, like a soldier stranded in hostile territory, moral calculus changes.

The synodic period between Earth and Mars is 2.1 years. The default trip time is 0.7 years, but if you burn a little fuel you can drop that to 0.5 years. In the book, since NASA has multiple Mars missions, they are always launching unmanned cargo in those launch windows. So at the worst -- another mission has just landed -- there 1.9 years to go.

Should give some boost to Mars One, a private plan to send colonist missions every two years starting in 2026, to be promoted and funded as a reality TV show. The only hitch is, considering the technological barriers, they decided the only way to make it feasible is if nobody ever comes back.

http://www.mars-one.com/faq/finance-and-feasibility/one-way-mission

Mars One is somewhere between a dream and a scam.

They keep on hoping someone will give them a billion dollars, "like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet." There's one billionaire never mentioned: Elon Musk. Because if BillG or WarrenB wants to go to Mars, or wants to have a city on Mars named for them, they are going to talk to Musk, not to MarsOne.

I really liked the movie. It kept the book's fantastic premise and well worked out survival puzzles, punched up the dialogue, and gave the ground based NASA guys enough characterisation to act as useful dramatic counterweights. The book occasionally suffered from giving Mark too much personality and nobody else any.

Others have mentioned how both the book and movie downplay the isolation and loneliness angles. But that's a conscious choice by the author, and probably the best choice he made. It's a plucky survival story, and making the guy a whiner wouldn't have done anything except stall the forward momentum.

Have the book, have not read it yet, saw the movie on Sunday.

Maybe this is addressed in the book, but, one of the things that jumped out at me as far as being ignored as a serious problem to solve, when it comes to long-term space travel, was the issue of micro-meteorites.

I understand that two of the biggest issues that need to be solved for long-term space travel are radiation exposure and micro-meteorites (there's also lack of gravity but that is solved in the movie), and I guess it is implied in the movie that they came up with a solution for radiation exposure, but there's nothing obvious on the Hermes spaceship addressing the micro-meteorite issue.

Another odd thing was that the movie does not explicitly mention any technological advancement achieved by the time of these Ares missions. It can be inferred that the Hermes spaceship has an ion engine, but, otherwise, to me, it seems as though the expeditions to Mars were happening with 2011(year of book)-2015(year of movie) technology. So, nothing about more powerful computers (maybe that is also implied), nothing about robots that could actually be helpful for your tasks.

Spacecraft, including, for example, ISS, are mildly armored to deal with small debris strikes. Mostly this takes the forms of spreading the walls out in multiple spaced layers. Very high velocity impacts behave more like surface explosions than penetrators, so this actually works pretty well pound-for-pound. If something the size of a golf ball comes along at 15 kps, they're screwed, but that sort of thing seems to be vanishingly rare.

As I pointed out above, the radiation problem from several years on Mars is small. Probably rather less than that from smoking for the same period of time. Unless you get really unlucky with a solar flare, the acute risk is low. Watney would have mildly elevated cancer risk and maybe cataracts a little bit early in his retirement.

I meant radiation exposure during inter-planetary travel….I was under the impression that that kind of radiation exposure is a bigger issue than radiation exposure on Mars…

If it's a problem (and I'm skeptical it's a real problem), you can defeat it with mass. The Hermes was built as an expensive, special, oversized ship for crew, instead of just doing a lift-and-throw with chemical rockets, so they presumably threw mass at the problem of interplanetary radiation.

Am I the only one that is shocked by all the favorable reviews this movie has received?

I meant radiation exposure during inter-planetary travel....I was under the impression that that kind of radiation exposure is a bigger issue than radiation exposure on Mars...

Please delete this comment....I did not mean to post it as a "main" comment, it was intended as a "reply" to a different comment...

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