Written by Nathalie Camens, Sequoia Snow & Kyle Kranen
In The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is deserted on Mars when his fellow astronauts leave during a dangerous storm. Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), Rick Martinez (Michael Peña), Beth Johannsen (Kate Mara), and Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan) are on the voyage home and think that Watney has died. Watney must use his botany skills to create enough food so he can survive until the next mission to Mars reaches him.
Although this was an excellent movie, it was distracting to have Kristen Wiig, a comedian, play a serious, nonsignificant character. Some of the smaller plot points blurred together towards the end and may have made more sense if I had read the book first. Matt Damon portrayed his character’s charismatic and snarky attitude very well. Of the smaller roles, my favourites were Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) and the spazzy Rich Purnell (Donald Glover).
Overall, the action in this film had me captivated and rooting for Watney the whole time.
I’d comment that this movie made me put Caltech on the top of my college list. Admittedly, I always wanted to be the equivalent of Mark Watney, and this is just personal experience, but the movie really motivated me to push for that future. I think it will end up being an inspiration for a lot of people who have an interest in NASA and space travel and provide a large boost for NASA. It also made me really depressed that NASA’ s budget is pitiful, as they don’t have enough funding to send an astronaut to Mars or even to the the International Space Station (ISS).
Personally, I am saddened by the idea that it could be SPACE-X or some other private organization that leads the space initiative. Americans have a long history and love of NASA— the entire world does— coming out of this movie I really hope that in the future, NASA will again lead the world and the people in space exploration.
The film is scientifically accurate for the most part, a quality that contributes to the realistic nature and feasibility of the movie. Technological implications ring true; the Hermes spaceship itself is an impressive feat of realistic technology, as is the growth of plants in space. The design of the spaceship shows the possible nature of future space travel. Specifically, the nuclear powered ion engine is a realistic method of space propulsion and the rotating sleeping and recreation units, which provide artificial gravity, would be a must for any real spacecraft. In addition, growing plants could feasibly occur; while there is a chemical in the Martian soil that may initially inhibit growth, it could easily be neutralized, as the astronaut in the film showed.
According to NASA, the scientific inaccuracies could not have been reduced. However, there the feature movie featured a few things that couldn’t happen. There could not be that forceful of a storm on Mars, the atmosphere is too thin. Also, the final ‘Iron Man’ sequence would only have worked if he had repeatedly opened and closed his hand, but the low rate of air flow could have been reduced.
Perhaps the most important element of the movie was the newly-generated interest for NASA and space exploration, though this temporary boost might have to be actively maintained to ensure such interest in the future. In fact, various executives at NASA rented a theater to watch the movie when it premiered. Increased interest in space exploration and the growing belief in its feasibility is perhaps the most lasting impression of the movie.
The emotional aspect of the movie, the return of a human from the remotest place ever traveled by man, lends a more heartfelt impact than typical science fiction films. The movie also touches on the human desire to survive and to not be alone. One can relate to the loneliness Matt Damon feels while stuck on Mars in a way one can’t associate with past science fiction characters. The dilemmas that Damon’s character faces impact the audience as if they were actually there.
Exploration. Space. NASA. These core ideas are expressed over and over in the movie. You can understand why someone would risk everything to go to Mars and you start wanting to do the same after seeing the movie.