CINEMA

The Martian

POSTED BY: JEWELSTAITEFAN
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 22:45
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015 8:35 PM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


Saw interesting trailer for it. Don't recall hearing about it before.

Despite the Matt Damon factor, I still want to see it hoping to enjoy the performances of Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, and Chewy.

I really hope Damon does not turn it into stupid. Like saying "need to science the hell out of this."

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Thursday, July 2, 2015 12:02 AM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


I wish they had cast someone else too, but the book was very good and I will see it.



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Thursday, July 2, 2015 9:37 AM

SECOND

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly


Quote:

Originally posted by JEWELSTAITEFAN:
Saw interesting trailer for it.

I really hope Damon does not turn it into stupid. Like saying "need to science the hell out of this."

The Martian | Official Trailer | 20th Century FOX


Interstellar (2014) - Matt Damon gets killed as he justly deserved.


Another Martian Disaster Movie: LAST DAYS ON MARS (2013) with no Matt Damon www.imdb.com/title/tt1709143



The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly

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Saturday, October 3, 2015 6:20 PM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


Damon didn't ruin the movie, in fact he was damn good. Plus, Ridley Scott redeemed himself after the horrid Prometheus almost made me swear off his work forever. As realistic and compelling a space-based movie as I could have imagined.

http://templetongate.net/themartian-movie.htm



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Sunday, October 4, 2015 10:15 PM

WISHIMAY

There will be fire and brimstone and Earth will be destroyed!... in several billion years!----------------------------------------- "Well, so long Earth. Thanks for the air... and what-not." -Philip J. Fry


Yeah, it was pretty good. Solid "A" movie. I think they could have done a couple scenes differently in regards to his ending bits, but nothing to really complain about. Nothing preachy, ands lots of fun flippant remarks...

My kid leaned over and said halfway through the movie "It's amazing how southern Arizona looks NOTHING like Mars, right?" I almost choked on my coke.
Actually it was filmed in Budapest, Hungary and Wadi Rum in Jordan, but still funny!

*Also, I will say it really had the feel of having actually happened, like they put in lots of weird personalizations that gave it sort of an air of authenticity. Like the part where Chiwetel is discussing the "Are you fucking kidding me?!" line. Stuff that real people think and say in reaction to something. Was nice to see.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015 8:16 PM

WISHIMAY

There will be fire and brimstone and Earth will be destroyed!... in several billion years!----------------------------------------- "Well, so long Earth. Thanks for the air... and what-not." -Philip J. Fry

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Friday, October 9, 2015 8:40 AM

SECOND

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly


Quote:

Originally posted by Wishimay:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3263921/What-mean-no-one-Mars-
Scores-people-believe-blockbuster-movie-Martian-based-true-story.html


Apparently, some people really thought it was realistic.

Maybe they saw this old TV special from 2007 (updated and re-released in 2011) and were thinking that 8 years is more than enough time to land on Mars and return.


"The Mars Underground" Updated Edition/Director's Cut

Leading aerospace engineer and Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin has a dream. He wants to get humans to the planet Mars in the next ten years.
Now, with the advent of a revolutionary plan, Mars Direct, Zubrin shows how we can use present day technology and natural resources on Mars to make human settlement possible.

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly

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Friday, October 9, 2015 8:54 PM

THGRRI


Want to see it. Might not see it in the theaters but still I can't wait to see it.


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Friday, October 9, 2015 9:22 PM

WISHIMAY

There will be fire and brimstone and Earth will be destroyed!... in several billion years!----------------------------------------- "Well, so long Earth. Thanks for the air... and what-not." -Philip J. Fry


Quote:

Originally posted by second:
Maybe they saw this old TV special from 2007 (updated and re-released in 2011) and were thinking that 8 years is more than enough time to land on Mars and return.



Ummm... No. They's jes' dumbbass 'Mericans.

I think my spellcheck just had a coronary

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Saturday, October 10, 2015 1:31 AM

SHINYGOODGUY


Just got home from seeing it and I'm glad Ridley Scott came back, damn good movie. It reminded me of Apollo 13. This one was well crafted, good rhythm and pacing, never a dull moment. Two Thumbs way up, to coin a phrase.

Man, do I miss Roger Ebert, R.I.P.

P.S. I loved the humor and music choices, especially at the end. My son's GF and I were trying to figure out why the Gloria Gaynor song as the credits rolled, I Will Survive. It was relevant two fold. One obvious, one not so. This was a very good screenplay.


SGG


Quote:

Originally posted by ecgordon:
Damon didn't ruin the movie, in fact he was damn good. Plus, Ridley Scott redeemed himself after the horrid Prometheus almost made me swear off his work forever. As realistic and compelling a space-based movie as I could have imagined.

http://templetongate.net/themartian-movie.htm




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Saturday, October 10, 2015 11:33 AM

SECOND

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly


Quote:

Originally posted by Wishimay:

Ummm... No. They's jes' dumbbass 'Mericans.

The movie makes NASA into dumb-asses. The real NASA would never contemplate abandoning a hundred billion dollars worth of equipment already on Mars just to avoid reminding the public one last time that Watney is still as dead as he was at the Watney memorial service earlier that same day. NASA is not that stupid and cynical.

In an abort, the REAL NASA, not the movie NASA, would never have Hermes leave Mars orbit within twenty-four hours. This is from the book: "The orbital dynamics made the trip safer and shorter the earlier you left, so why wait?" Why, indeed. The REAL NASA would have pointed every camera in orbit at Watney's last known position. Ridley Scott can keep the movie tragedy rolling along as before if NASA still can't see Watney, after looking. It is nonsense for the movie version of NASA to not even look for months.

But that is what The Martian does. The movie plot really should have deviated from the book's plot. It would have been very realistic to point the satellite camera at the Ares 3 landing and NOT see signs that Watney was alive. NASA could easily have misinterpreted what the photo shows because smart people "know" Watney was dead. The President said so. It would be more dramatic, too. Watney's chances for an early rescue are built up in the audience and then are dashed. Oh, the agony of defeat.

Here is what the book says and the movie copied the book, more or less:
Quote:

Venkat leaned forward. “Ares 3 was a failure, but we can salvage something from it. We’re funded for five Ares missions. I think we can get Congress to fund a sixth.”

“I don’t know, Venk…”

“It’s simple, Teddy.” Venkat pressed on. “They evac’d after six sols. There’s almost an entire mission’s worth of supplies up there. It would only cost a fraction of a normal mission. It normally takes fourteen presupply probes to prep a site. We might be able to send what’s missing in three. Maybe two.”

“Venk, the site got hit by a 175 kph sandstorm. It’ll be in really bad shape.”

“That’s why I want imagery,” Venkat said. “I just need a couple of shots of the site. We could learn a lot.”

“Like what? You think we’d send people to Mars without being sure everything was in perfect working order?”

“Everything doesn’t have to be perfect,” Venkat said quickly. “Whatever’s broken, we’d send replacements for.”

“How will we know from imagery what’s broken?”

“It’s just a first step. They evac’d because the wind was a threat to the MAV, but the Hab can withstand a lot more punishment. It might still be in one piece.

“And it’ll be really obvious. If it popped, it’d completely blow out and collapse. If it’s still standing, then everything inside will be fine. And the rovers are solid. They can take any sandstorm Mars has to offer. Just let me take a look, Teddy, that’s all I want.”

Teddy paced to the windows and stared out at the vast expanse of buildings. “You’re not the only guy who wants satellite time, you know. We have Ares 4 supply missions coming up. We need to concentrate on Schiaparelli crater.”

“I don’t get it, Teddy. What’s the problem here?” Venkat asked. “I’m talking about securing us another mission. We have twelve satellites in orbit around Mars; I’m sure you can spare one or two for a couple of hours. I can give you the windows for each one when they’ll be at the right angle for Ares 3 shots—”

“It’s not about satellite time, Venk,” Teddy interrupted.

Venkat froze. “Then…but…what…”

Teddy turned to face him. “We’re a public domain organization. There’s no such thing as secret or secure information here.”

“So?”

“Any imagery we take goes directly to the public.”

“Again, so?”

“Mark Watney’s body will be within twenty meters of the Hab. Maybe partially buried in sand, but still very visible, and with a comm antenna sticking out of his chest. Any images we take will show that.”

Venkat stared. Then glared. “This is why you denied my imagery requests for two months?”

“Venk, come on—”

“Really, Teddy?” he said. “You’re afraid of a PR problem?”

“The media’s obsession with Watney’s death is finally starting to taper off,” Teddy said evenly. “It’s been bad press after bad press for two months. Today’s memorial gives people closure, and the media can move on to some other story. The last thing we want is to dredge everything back up.”

“So what do we do, then? He’s not going to decompose. He’ll be there forever.”

“Not forever,” Teddy said. “Within a year, he’ll be covered in sand from normal weather activity.”

“A year?” Venkat said, rising to his feet. “That’s ludicrous. We can’t wait a year for this.”

“Why not? Ares 4 won’t even launch for another five years. Plenty of time.”

Venkat took a deep breath and thought for a moment.

“Okay, consider this: Sympathy for Watney’s family is really high. Ares 6 could bring the body back. We don’t say that’s the purpose of the mission, but we make it clear that would be part of it. If we framed it that way, we’d get more support in Congress. But not if we wait a year. In a year, people won’t care anymore.”

Teddy rubbed his chin. “Hmm…”



The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly

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Saturday, October 10, 2015 2:13 PM

SISTER


Really enjoyed this. I read the book when it first came out and loved it. Glad the movie followed it closely.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015 4:40 PM

SECOND

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly


www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/NASA-final
ly-talks-Mars-budget-and-it-s-not-6562388.php

NASA finally talks Mars budget, and it's not enough

By Eric Berger
October 9, 2015 8:20pm

A human mission to Mars may be cost-prohibitive for NASA, experts say.

On Thursday NASA released a glossy 35-page report on its "Journey to Mars," reaffirming its intent to put human boots in the planet's red, dusty soil by the 2030s.

But the plan did not address the specific cost of a human mission to the Red Planet, which has been standard practice for the space agency in the five years it has been talking about it.

To get some idea of how NASA intends to pay for its Martian dream, one would have had to be in attendance at a Space Transportation Association luncheon on Capitol Hill earlier in the week where Robert Lightfoot, NASA's associate administrator, essentially declared it could be done without raising the agency's current budget.

That may have been the analysis Congress, which has more or less held NASA's human exploration budget steady at $8 billion annually and is disinclined to raise it, wanted to hear. But it also probably means NASA isn't going to Mars any time soon.

The National Research Council has studied this budget scenario in depth and concluded in its 2014 Pathways to Exploration report that "With current flat or even inflation-adjusted budget projections for human spaceflight, there are no viable pathways to Mars."

At the Capitol Hill luncheon, Lightfoot said a Mars program would have to be accomplished with a budget that is one-tenth of the budget that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon.

"From a NASA perspective it'll be done for about one-tenth of the budget that we were doing back then," Lightfoot said, according to Space News.

Congress frustrated

A NASA spokeswoman said after Lightfoot's speech that he was comparing the Apollo budget and the agency's current budget based on percentages of the overall federal budget. NASA received 4 percent of the total federal budget during the height of the Apollo Program, and today NASA has 0.4 percent.

"We intend to carry out our current ambitious exploration plans within current budget levels, with modest increases aligned to economic growth," NASA's Lauren Worley said.

The release of the "Journey to Mars" report that contained no specific budget for a Mars mission frustrated some members of Congress.

"Regrettably, this proposal contains no budget," Lamar Smith, a San Antonio Republican who chairs the House Science Committee, said Friday. "It contains no schedule, no deadlines. It's just some real pretty photographs and some nice words. That is … not going to get us to Mars."

Another Republican, Dana Rohrabacher, of California, was more blunt: "We don't even have a budget? This is insane."

In declaring that with the current budget there are no "viable pathways to Mars," the National Research Council cited several reasons. Among them are the high costs of developing Mars hardware, low flight rates - if NASA doesn't fly often stakeholders wonder what it is doing, and it's difficult to keep employees engaged - and maintaining a program across multiple presidential administrations.

With its current human exploration budget, plus inflation, the influential Pathways report found that the agency would only accumulate about $100 billion between now and 2040 for Mars-related work.

Without a clearly defined plan or the types of rockets, spacecraft and landers needed to pull it off, it is impossible to estimate how much it would cost to land astronauts on Mars. But industry sources offer rough estimates that, using NASA's current practices, the cost is likely between $200 billion and $400 billion.

A daunting task

Last year Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University president who co-led the Pathways report, said what struck him most during the process of researching and writing was how incredibly daunting it would be to reach Mars, both from an engineering and political standpoint.

"The nation's approach will have to be fundamentally changed if we are to succeed," Daniels said. "I don't think most amateurs like me understand how steep those challenges are."

Mark Albrecht, an aerospace executive and principal space adviser to President George H.W. Bush, does. He was part of Bush's team that, in 1990, tried to set NASA on a course to Mars.

That effort failed when NASA submitted a report that called for a tripling of its budget to eventually land humans on Mars.

Albrecht said NASA, now with a total annual budget of more than $18 billion, has enough funds to pull off a Mars mission.

"NASA has enough money, more than enough money," he said. "The problem is it is spent on a jillion different things."

When it comes to setting the budget, the agency spends billions on space science, Earth science, airplane technology and education. All may be worthy investments, but if NASA set Mars as its core goal and turned all of its field centers toward that aim, it could reach the red planet by the 2030s, Albrecht said.

But NASA's leaders, Albrecht said, are worried that if they go all in for a human mission to Mars the next president could come in, cancel that program, and there would be nothing left of the agency.

"The problem with that attitude is, essentially, NASA's leaders are saying the existence and sustainability of the organization is their number one priority," he said.

Leadership needed

Breaking that mold would require strong, committed presidential leadership. NASA has really only had that kind of sustained direction from a president once, under John F. Kennedy, who propelled the agency to the moon.

A couple of years ago the JFK Library released some tapes from 1962 in which Kennedy confronted NASA's administrator at the time, James Webb. This was a month after Kennedy's "We Choose to go to the Moon" speech.

During the exchange Kennedy makes clear to Webb that the primary goal is to safely send men to the moon and back.

Webb replies that there's a lot of science that goes along with that, and that the scientific community isn't going to be happy if this is simply an engineering exercise. The scientists want to learn a lot more about space and other things.

"If I go out and say this is the number one priority and everything else must give way to it, I'm going to lose an important element of support," Webb says.

"By whom? Who? Who?" Kennedy asks.

Particularly the "brainy people," Webb replies.

Kennedy is having none of it. "We ought to be clear," Kennedy says. "Otherwise we shouldn't be spending this money because I'm not that interested in space."

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015 10:45 AM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


Quote:

Originally posted by second:
Quote:

Originally posted by Wishimay:

Ummm... No. They's jes' dumbbass 'Mericans.

The movie makes NASA into dumb-asses. The real NASA would never contemplate abandoning a hundred billion dollars worth of equipment already on Mars just to avoid reminding the public one last time that Watney is still as dead as he was at the Watney memorial service earlier that same day. NASA is not that stupid and cynical.

In an abort, the REAL NASA, not the movie NASA, would never have Hermes leave Mars orbit within twenty-four hours. This is from the book: "The orbital dynamics made the trip safer and shorter the earlier you left, so why wait?" Why, indeed. The REAL NASA would have pointed every camera in orbit at Watney's last known position. Ridley Scott can keep the movie tragedy rolling along as before if NASA still can't see Watney, after looking. It is nonsense for the movie version of NASA to not even look for months.

But that is what The Martian does. The movie plot really should have deviated from the book's plot. It would have been very realistic to point the satellite camera at the Ares 3 landing and NOT see signs that Watney was alive. NASA could easily have misinterpreted what the photo shows because smart people "know" Watney was dead. The President said so. It would be more dramatic, too. Watney's chances for an early rescue are built up in the audience and then are dashed. Oh, the agony of defeat.

Here is what the book says and the movie copied the book, more or less:
Quote:

Venkat leaned forward. “Ares 3 was a failure, but we can salvage something from it. We’re funded for five Ares missions. I think we can get Congress to fund a sixth.”

“I don’t know, Venk…”

“It’s simple, Teddy.” Venkat pressed on. “They evac’d after six sols. There’s almost an entire mission’s worth of supplies up there. It would only cost a fraction of a normal mission. It normally takes fourteen presupply probes to prep a site. We might be able to send what’s missing in three. Maybe two.”

“Venk, the site got hit by a 175 kph sandstorm. It’ll be in really bad shape.”

“That’s why I want imagery,” Venkat said. “I just need a couple of shots of the site. We could learn a lot.”

“Like what? You think we’d send people to Mars without being sure everything was in perfect working order?”

“Everything doesn’t have to be perfect,” Venkat said quickly. “Whatever’s broken, we’d send replacements for.”

“How will we know from imagery what’s broken?”

“It’s just a first step. They evac’d because the wind was a threat to the MAV, but the Hab can withstand a lot more punishment. It might still be in one piece.

“And it’ll be really obvious. If it popped, it’d completely blow out and collapse. If it’s still standing, then everything inside will be fine. And the rovers are solid. They can take any sandstorm Mars has to offer. Just let me take a look, Teddy, that’s all I want.”

Teddy paced to the windows and stared out at the vast expanse of buildings. “You’re not the only guy who wants satellite time, you know. We have Ares 4 supply missions coming up. We need to concentrate on Schiaparelli crater.”

“I don’t get it, Teddy. What’s the problem here?” Venkat asked. “I’m talking about securing us another mission. We have twelve satellites in orbit around Mars; I’m sure you can spare one or two for a couple of hours. I can give you the windows for each one when they’ll be at the right angle for Ares 3 shots—”

“It’s not about satellite time, Venk,” Teddy interrupted.

Venkat froze. “Then…but…what…”

Teddy turned to face him. “We’re a public domain organization. There’s no such thing as secret or secure information here.”

“So?”

“Any imagery we take goes directly to the public.”

“Again, so?”

“Mark Watney’s body will be within twenty meters of the Hab. Maybe partially buried in sand, but still very visible, and with a comm antenna sticking out of his chest. Any images we take will show that.”

Venkat stared. Then glared. “This is why you denied my imagery requests for two months?”

“Venk, come on—”

“Really, Teddy?” he said. “You’re afraid of a PR problem?”

“The media’s obsession with Watney’s death is finally starting to taper off,” Teddy said evenly. “It’s been bad press after bad press for two months. Today’s memorial gives people closure, and the media can move on to some other story. The last thing we want is to dredge everything back up.”

“So what do we do, then? He’s not going to decompose. He’ll be there forever.”

“Not forever,” Teddy said. “Within a year, he’ll be covered in sand from normal weather activity.”

“A year?” Venkat said, rising to his feet. “That’s ludicrous. We can’t wait a year for this.”

“Why not? Ares 4 won’t even launch for another five years. Plenty of time.”

Venkat took a deep breath and thought for a moment.

“Okay, consider this: Sympathy for Watney’s family is really high. Ares 6 could bring the body back. We don’t say that’s the purpose of the mission, but we make it clear that would be part of it. If we framed it that way, we’d get more support in Congress. But not if we wait a year. In a year, people won’t care anymore.”

Teddy rubbed his chin. “Hmm…”



The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly


You have a very low opinion of "smart people" at NASA. Yes, all of the "smart people" of the world also knew for a fact that the earth was flat, millenia after it was known to be opposite.
Some people at NASA are smart. You seem to have confused tjem with the deadwood beureucrats installed by Democrats and other liberals.


While waiting for this film, the screen trivia asked which star of Interstellar was also in this film, so I answered the obvious Jessica Chastain. The trivia said it was instead Damon.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015 10:45 PM

SECOND

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly


Quote:

Originally posted by JEWELSTAITEFAN:

You have a very low opinion of "smart people" at NASA.

Some people at NASA are smart. You seem to have confused them with the deadwood bureaucrats installed by Democrats and other liberals.

I lived in Astronaut William Pogue's house in El Lago, Texas. I have a high opinion of the people at the real NASA, but not Hollywood's NASA. The real people at NASA have excellent manners and would never publicly make rude comments about Hollywood's NASA. But the real people are aware of the flaws in The Martian.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Pogue

This review by Chris Bateman was published yesterday:
The Martian as Robinsonade
http://onlyagame.typepad.com/only_a_game/2015/11/the-martian-as-robins
onade.html


Contains spoilers for the 2015 film The Martian, and one moderate swear word quoted from it.

The 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars proudly declares on its poster: “This film is scientifically authentic! It is only one step ahead of present reality!” You can guess, simply from the year and title, what we would make of this claim today. Fifty years later, Ridley Scott’s The Martian plots exactly the same vector, just from a different starting point.

The most realistic aspect of Scott’s The Martian, adapted from the self-published novel by Andy Weir, is that its protagonist, botanist and astronaut Mark Watney, never questions his faith in the power of science to save him. Beyond this earnest depiction of contemporary non-religious zeal, the movie’s claims to showcase anything that might be called ‘real’ evaporate. This, indeed, is inevitable: the lesson from The Martian, should we choose to accept it, is that ‘realism’ describes accordance with whichever mythologies we align with our concept of ‘reality’. That does not mean nothing is true: it just highlights the problems entailed in trying to assert terms like ‘realistic’ in connection with imagined events.

The Martian is real to positivists (those who put their faith in the sciences) in precisely the same way something like The Greatest Story Ever Told is real to Christians – right down to the way either cultural cohort would approach nit-picking the content. There is a quasi-religious fervour to the way ‘scientific inaccuracy’ is reported in connection with films such as this, a duty to educate on the back of entertainment, all while extolling the need to witness the film in question for its edifying qualities. While there is no denying (for instance) that the Martian dust storm that serves as the inciting incident would be harmless because of the thinness of the atmosphere on Mars, as the author of the original book acknowledges, I was personally more bothered by the internal problems this creates. If killer storms are an aspect of Mars in the fictional world of The Martian, it cannot be the case that the rockets for departure are recklessly sent by NASA years in advance and ready-to-fly, a key plot device upon which hangs the resolution of the film’s crisis. Mind you, none of this matters in terms of claims to this being a ‘realistic’ story, since such a claim is not about what could happen but about how we conceive reality.

To call The Martian a Robinsonade i.e. a tale in the form of Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel, is perhaps not too surprising. Surely many expected they were going to see Castaway in Space, rather than Apollo 13: Martian Edition. But herein lies the insurmountable rift at the centre of any claim to realism leveled against the film; not that physics, chemistry, and biology are neglected (rather, they are lavishly worshiped, however inaccurate some details may be), but that the central character is not a character, but a mere cipher through which the miracles of Science are channeled. I would compare Mark Watney to Moses, if it were not for the fact that Moses could barely believe the incredible superpowers that flowed through him. Like the preacher upon the pulpit, Watney doesn’t have to be human; to have our frailties, our weaknesses, to fall prey to depression, to slip from sanity – all this is impossible in the given role. Watney, like a good fundamentalist, never questions, and never doubts the agent of his salvation. “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this!” he declares. Hallelujah, brother, testify!

It could reasonably be objected that The Martian doesn’t work as a Robinsonade because so much of the story entails the work of NASA to line up all the necessary science-flavoured plot devices involved in its hero’s rescue. It is certainly a twist on the format! But in many respects this helps reinforce the way that both stories are deeply colonial in their perspective. Writing in the same year as Robinson Crusoe on Mars was released, the Irish author James Joyce noted that Defoe’s protagonist was the “true prototype” of the colonialism of the British Empire. Joyce remarks upon Crusoe’s “manly independence” as well as “the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the sexual apathy, the calculating taciturnity.” This description matches Watney perfectly. Certainly, some of the “efficient intelligence” is outsourced to Earth in The Martian, since many of the characters in the movie exist solely to deliver a domain-specific plot device to its proverbial desert island. But it is Watney's “manly independence” that is always the focus of the action.

The principle difference between Watney and Crusoe is that the latter, as with British colonials, had to deal with the indigenous ‘savages’, and only truly turns to faith at the denouement of the novel. Watney on the other hand is alone, and disturbingly unfazed by it. Perhaps his perfect Earth-agricultural potatoes – utterly implausible given what we know about plant growth, incidentally – are his companions? The colonial reference is made internally to the movie, and it would have been interesting to see the film accept that potato plants grown on Mars would be utterly different vegetables to the ones we know. It would have been an acknowledgment, however small, that what we were seeing was palpably unnatural, in the sense this term is usually deployed. Perhaps coming eye-to-eye with an unrecognisable tuber would have allowed Watney to encounter something other than what his scientifically-flawless sainthood projects: mastery of all, dependence upon no-one.

In both Defoe’s novel and The Martian, we are presented with a mythos whereby one soul is able to survive against the odds. This is not coincidental. While separated by nearly three centuries, both stories build upon a conception of the human soul that was given mythic breath by Descartes’ philosophy. The contemporary sciences, in a brutal irony, deftly unweave the idealism of pure individuality implied by Descartes’ cogito: we are a social species, we cannot be human in isolation. Yet a great many contemporary scientists and their fans, swept up in a mythology they cannot quite perceive because of its status as background assumption, continue to presume this individualism, a narrative massively intensified by the Enlightenment – originally to our benefit, now to our considerable loss. We have been colonised by this way of thinking; its truth has supplanted older ways of being that now seem ‘savage’ by comparison. Of course we must idolise the individual as the embodiment of freedom! Anyone who doesn’t is not ‘one of us’.

The Martian offers to reassure you that you can exist as a pure individual provided you place your faith in the sciences (while ignoring what these discourses reveal about us), and that humanity will act to deliver you from evil – at astronomical expense! – provided you do not live on our own planet. This does not exhilarate me the way it has other cinema goers. I find it somewhat pernicious that we can be entertained by this, for reasons directly parallel to the critique I leveled at Interstellar and Sunshine.
http://onlyagame.typepad.com/only_a_game/2014/12/interstellar-as-self-
defeating-allegory.html


I enjoyed the movie only guiltily, quietly concerned by what it reveals about our contemporary mythologies. The sciences cannot save us because they have become quintessentially bound to our problems; not quite their cause, but inestimably far from being our salvation. We cannot go on without their help, but in ascribing to them the unique capacity to determine what is ‘real’ we extend the power practices of our officially dismantled Empires indefinitely. Perhaps it is time to apply the deeply questioning methodology we ascribe to the sciences to our notion of ‘realistic’ and bring an end to the colonialism of truth that underpins far too much of our cultural baggage.

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly

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