Skip to main content

The Martian

I was late to The Martian party, having only read it earlier this year. I enjoyed it then and had a good feeling about the movie directed by Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon. Something about the trailers suggested the film-makers got the essential point of Andy Weir's novel and wouldn't go out of their way to ruin it.




There is a distinct pleasure in having favorable first impressions backed up by the actual product.

I very much enjoyed The Martian which marks the third hard sci-fi space thriller in as many years that I thought really worked. With $55 million taken in over the weekend, it also looks like the kind of financial success that could bring in another round of such projects. As a big fan of space exploration I tend to think that as a very good thing.

So where does this movie lie in the big scheme of things?

The challenge is that while The Martian fulfills the promise of the book and certainly ranks high in science fiction movies, it's not a great movie. Not in my humble estimation, anyway. While well-acted, produced, directed, and filmed, this is ultimately "Cast Away" in space. The point of this film is that ingenuity and perseverance pay off and that even the most impossible situations might be salvaged with a little luck and hard-work. Noble sentiments but not really in the same mind-blowing sphere as 2001 or even Interstellar.

So where does that leave us?

The Martian is my favorite movie I've seen set predominantly on Mars. Yes, I think it even beats out the original Total Recall.

It is my favorite science fiction movie with Jeff Daniels (although if one includes Arachnophia into the mix it becomes dicier).

It is my second favorite movie with Matt Damon playing an astronaut.

It also my second favorite science fiction movie with Chiwetel Ejiofor in a major role.

I would rank it as Ridley Scott's fifth best film overall and his third best science fiction film.

It's my favorite movie with Michael Pena.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this is a few notches above a good movie but it's probably not going to be in my top five anytime soon. It's definitely worth a watch, maybe even a rewatch, but I would pull a skeptical face if anyone said this was the best space movie of all time.

I do have one more positive thing to say for it though.

As I walked from the theater I heard a little boy say to his dad, "I want to go to Mars. When can I go to Mars? I want to build a house there." Considering how tense and dangerous this movie makes space travel appear - I think that is one small positive sign for the future.

If one is in the market for such things.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reading Response to "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Reader Response to “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Morgan Crooks I once heard Flannery O’Connor’s work introduced as a project to describe a world denied God’s grace. This critic of O’Connor’s work meant the Christian idea that a person’s misdeeds, mistakes, and sins could be sponged away by the power of Jesus’ sacrifice at Crucifixion. The setting of her stories often seem to be monstrous distortions of the real world. These are stories where con men steal prosthetic limbs, hired labor abandons mute brides in rest stops, and bizarre, often disastrous advice is imparted.  O’Connor herself said of this reputation for writing ‘grotesque’ stories that ‘anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.’ This is both a witty observation and a piece of advice while reading O’Connor’s work. These are stories about pain and lies and ugliness. The brutality that happens to characters …

Arisia 2019: Wrap Report

Arisia 2019 is over!

It’s back to the real world this week after an entire weekend in Arisia 2019. I go to this convention every year, but this one will definitely be special to me. For one thing, this is the year that felt, at least for a moment, like it wasn’t going to happen. If the debacle with the e-board wasn’t enough, there was the strike at the Westin. The convention felt slimmer this year for sure. A lot of people self-selected to not come this year and honestly with the smaller, more confined venue of the Boston Park Plaza, that was a decision enormously beneficial to my enjoyment of this con.
I had a blast. I was more invested in the panels this year because I wrote a portion of them. It’s one thing to go to a panel and listen for reading suggestions, or new ideas, or people to follow on social media, but it’s quite another to put together a panel of people to create a very specific conversation and then get to sit back to see how the discussion plays out. I loved that aspect…

All Words Are Made Up

The title of this post (and the panel I’m participating in for Arisia 2019) come from a random exchange between Thor and Drax in last year’s “Infinity War” movie. It’s what Thor replies when to Drax when the always literal-minded hero doubts the existence of Niðavellir its forge. It’s a funny throw-away line and the title of this post because I think there’s always been a bit of defensiveness on my part when I add some invented vocabulary to a story of mine.

The art and craft of inventing new languages has a surprisingly long history. A 12th century nun by the Saint Hildegard is credited with one of the first (sadly incompletely recorded) constructed language. There was also a period during the Enlightenment when the creation of ‘philosophical languages,’ meant to resolve age-old problems and reshape society, were the vogue. Gottfried Leibniz, for example, tried to a create a language that was logically self-consistent. The task proved too much for him, but that drive to bring the peop…