Toronto Film Review: ‘The Martian’

Matt Damon The Martian
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Ridley Scott has rewritten the rules of sci-fi multiple times over his half-century career, but this time, the dystopian maestro sees hope in our stars.

With ideas like cryogenic sleep and warp speed, the movies have a tendency to make space travel look easy. Not Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” an enthralling and rigorously realistic outer-space survival story in which Matt Damon plays a NASA botanist stranded on the Red Planet after a sandstorm forces his crewmates to abort mission. Like Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Damon’s “right stuff” hero has to get by on his own wits and “science the sh–” out of his predicament. It won’t be easy, but it is possible — and that’s the exhilarating thrill of both Andy Weir’s speculative-fiction novel and screenwriter Drew Goddard’s “science fact” adaptation. Considering that the United States hasn’t launched a manned space mission since 2011, “The Martian” should do far more than just make Fox a ton of money; it could conceivably rekindle interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of future astronauts.

As Mark Watney, Damon serves as the poster boy for these future space travelers, a good-humored, all-American team player who’s just 18 “sols” (or Martian days) into his mission when he is impaled by a communications antenna and left for dead by his colleagues during a forced evacuation. Watney is the lowest-ranking member of his team and the least equipped to handle such a situation, with one notable caveat: As a botany specialist, his assignment was to investigate whether plants could grow in an environment without fertilizer or water — and now, with only enough food to last 400 sols and the next planned mission nearly four years away, Watney’s ability to pull off that tall order will determine whether he lives or dies. Actually, there are a thousand different real-world things that could kill him, but it’s clear he won’t survive unless he manages to “cultivate” Mars.

Before “Gravity,” studio executives might have thought twice before greenlighting such a big-budget space drama (surely such Mars-set disappointments as “Red Planet,” “John Carter” and “Mission to Mars” must have given them pause), and while a good portion of “The Martian’s” audience will surely be hoping for a repeat of Sandra Bullock’s white-knuckle experience, Scott has a different agenda altogether. The helmer is already responsible for two of most influential sci-fi movies of all time, “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” and he has better things to do than repeat himself — or anyone else, for that matter.

“The Martian” finds Scott and his team innovating once again, this time moving in the direction of the plausible to present the most realistic version possible of a manned mission to Mars (with a few well-chosen stylistic flourishes courtesy of costume designer Janty Yates). Though the film proves reasonably suspenseful in parts, Scott isn’t trying to generate the same real-time intensity as “Gravity” (in fact, “The Martian” takes place over nearly two years, demanding an altogether different pace). Nor does he distract himself with attempting to pioneer the field of 3D filmmaking, though he does incorporate the technology in effective yet nondistracting ways.

At its most basic, “The Martian” serves as an epic homage to the nerd — a deferential widescreen celebration of human intelligence in a genre that so often hinges on speed, braun or sheer midi-chlorian levels (thanks for nothing, George Lucas). And while Watney may be stranded by himself on Mars, he’s anything but alone, with the best minds on Earth working overtime to bring him home — if only he can figure out how to communicate with the good folks at Houston’s Johnson Space Center. Nothing brings the people of this planet together quite like space travel, and Scott manages to alternate between the immediate Reader’s Digest appeal of Watney’s sol-to-sol survival on Mars with the unifying impact his potential rescue has back on Earth, where TV viewers follow every development and the Chinese even declassify a secret space program in order to help.

With no acid-dripping extraterrestrials to menace him on Mars and no James Cameron-style greedy corporate villains ready to sacrifice him on Earth (just Jeff Daniels, still in “The Newsroom” mode, as a pragmatic NASA honcho forced to make some tough calls), “The Martian” feels downright, well, Martian compared with the vast majority of space-travel dramas. It’s not without precedent, however. The sleek, science-friendly elegance of Arthur Max’s production design recalls “Silent Running” (another sci-fi parable with a botanist hero), while its running series of logistical challenges echoes Arthur C. Clarke sequel “2010.” But instead of trying to scare people off space travel, Scott and company recombine these elements in hopes of inspiring a generation for whom the moon landing and shuttle missions are now ancient history, practically nostalgia, while the American space program sits mothballed.

While not propaganda per se, the film seeks to galvanize (rather than terrorize) those who might shape the future. That was the hollow promise “Tomorrowland” offered this past summer, featuring a feel-good epilogue in which its white heroes recruited a diverse range of talented young people around the world. But instead of waiting for that time to come, “The Martian” puts man’s potential for problem solving to to the test today, assembling a gender-balanced, multi-culti cast and combining their brightest ideas to save Damon’s character.

Scott recycles some of his cast (including mission commander Jessica Chastain) from Christopher Nolan’s eye-crossing “Interstellar,” in which Damon played an astronaut with far more sinister intentions, and though “The Martian” can be even more densely geek-speak in places, Goddard’s script manages to parse the technical jargon for lay viewers. As Michael Pena puts it, “But like in English, what would that be?” after his colleagues hit him with one of their more technical solutions. (Chastain and Pena share the return vessel with Kate Mara, Aksel Hennie and Sebastian Stan, while Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover and a half-serious Kristen Wiig brainstorm from the ground.)

Weir did his research when writing the novel, basing each of Watney’s MacGyver-like solutions (using recycled human waste to turn Thanksgiving potatoes into a viable crop, burning hydrazine rocket fuel to create water, etc.), as well as their subsequent setbacks (killer Martian frost, explosive chemical reactions), on scenarios that could reasonably arise on Mars. Scott carries that scrupulous adherence to science forward in the film, eschewing a more predictable suspense-movie score from composer Harry Gregson-Williams in favor of the sort of mellow musical chain reaction heard in natural-science docs and Discovery Channel reality shows. The idea here is to capitalize on the excitement of human ingenuity, the musical metaphor for which can be heard percolating behind the team’s every breakthrough — and they are a team. Unlike so many films that cast heroism as the doing of a single rebellious soul, this one does justice to the idea that truly amazing feats depend on the collaboration of exceptional people. In “The Martian,” we identify with Damon, but he couldn’t do it without the planet’s best behind him.

Rather than giving Watney a Wilson volleyball or HAL-like supercomputer to chat with, Goddard relies on another of the book’s “Robinson Crusoe”-like touches (Daniel Defoe’s novel was written in the character’s voice and fooled early readers as a faux travelogue), giving him amusing “HAB journal” entries — or video diaries — in which to document his own progress. By applying 3D to these digital recordings as well, d.p. Dariusz Wolski seamlessly eases audiences between the intimate loneliness of Watney’s habitat and the magisterial land- and space-scapes beyond — no easy feat, as Ray and Charles Eames’ “Powers of Ten” proved the year Scott made his directorial debut.

Though Watney has already proven his resourcefulness by doctoring his own puncture wound, his recordings serve the dual purpose of giving him a chance to explain complicated science ideas while endearing us to Damon’s naturally charismatic personality. The poor guy does his best to keep his mind active on Mars, but with only a collection of disco hits and “Happy Days” episodes to simulate human company, even the sanest astronaut would start to go a little stir-crazy — although, admittedly, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” has seldom seemed a more appropriate anthem.

Toronto Film Review: 'The Martian'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Gala Presentations), Sept. 11, 2015. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 142 MIN.

Production

A 20th Century Fox release and presentation, in association with TSG Entertainment, of a Scott Free, Kinberg Genre production. Produced by Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Aditya Sood, Mark Huffam. Executive producer, Drew Goddard.

Crew

Directed by Ridley Scott. Screenplay, Drew Goddard, based on the novel by Andy Weir. Camera (color, widescreen, 3D), Dariusz Wolski; editor, Pietro Scalia; music, Harry Gregson-Williams; production designer, Arthur Max; supervising art director, Marc Homes; set decorator, Celia Bobak; costume designer, Janty Yates; sound (Dolby Atmos), Mac Ruth; sound designer/supervising sound editor, Oliver Tarney; re-recording mixers, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor; visual effects supervisor, Richard Stammers; visual effects producer, Barrie Hemsley; visual effects, MPC, Framestore, the Senate, Industrial Light & Magic, Atomic Arts, Milk; special effects supervisor, Neil Corbould; stereographer, Gareth Daley; stunt coordinator, Rob Inch; associate producer, Teresa Kelly; assistant director, Raymond Kirk; second unit director, Luke Scott; second unit camera, Mark Patten; casting, Carmen Cuba, Nina Gold.

With

Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover, Chen Shu, Eddy Ko, Chiwetel Ejiofor. (English, Mandarin dialogue)

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  1. Ren says:

    I gave this movie a D. Appears to be a copycat “want a be” off of Sandra Bullock’s fantastic movie “Gravity” in which had truly fantastic acting/directing. This movie “The Martian” was nothing more than a liberal spin from the get go. The acting was bad, the directing was typical, the movie itself was an expected boring piece of work. No wonder why the overall media gave it +4 stars. Now if you want a truly good to see movie get “Gravity” instead.

  2. Michel says:

    An very entertaining, some what family friendly, movie (well done to all cast & crew!) which I feel was well worth spending the $22.26 for the DVD to add to our library.

  3. Gerry Mattia says:

    I am wondering how your article is sitting well with the recent Golden Globe awards of, “The Martian” in the ‘Comedy’ category – more than one award for ‘COMEDY?”. “At its most basic, “The Martian” serves as an epic homage to the nerd — a deferential widescreen celebration of human intelligence in a genre that so often hinges on speed, braun or sheer midi-chlorian levels (thanks for nothing, George Lucas)” — how did you miss slipping in Robin Williams for his ‘nerd-Na-Nu-Nu”? I left the following on rag today:Ridley Scott – How the hell can you allow, “The Martian” to be considered a comedy at any award show? Amazing that ‘Sci-fi’ has yet to be a category at The Globes. Of course, Matt Damon was confused accepting the award for “Best Actor In a ‘COMEDY'”. I read the book, while on vacation, and I can assure that its author is wondering what the hell happened after he signed it over to Hollywood. A series of script lines of, “How bad disco is”, does not a comedy make. Anyone who truly read the novel got a bit lost in the empirical attraction it offered. You are not Watney, for allowing that banner up there, and everyone should see how far you are from being rescued.

  4. Mike Buck says:

    Loved it all, scenery, special effects, writing, screen adaptation, and Matt was simply fantastic, can’t imagine where he went in his head to pull together such a variety of emotional tapestry? Well done, should be very proud!

  5. Michael Maxwell says:

    Not an original movie, script or book. Just a another rewrite-twist of an original movie Robinson Crusoe on Mars, from 1964.

  6. Hoops says:

    A truly great and inspiring movie, flawlessly made abd acted.

  7. emmy says:

    Horrible movie. Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain’s potentially great performances were swallowed whole by the plodding, silly, predictable plot of this overrated, bloated film; plus, too much screen time given to the ultra-wooden Jeff Daniels and the film’s many secondary characters who we never got to know or care about; and the crazy-bad casting of Kristen Wiig as who/what? (so distracting–like an extra jumping in for close-ups and a handful of stammering, pointless lines). Finally, Matt Damon’s body-double used for his extreme weight loss scenes only made you feel how little he was willing to actually invest in his role, with the crappy-cheap effect akin to super bad lip-syncing. I cannot understand the high rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Utterly mind boggling!

  8. Davo says:

    Too bad they didn’t make him grey at the end, a primary telltail sign of acute and chronic stress which if they were striving for a degree of realism would have happened; plus it would have made for a visual impact to be long remembered by the viewer and a topic of discussion afterwards.

  9. Chris says:

    “The Martian” borrows heavily from “Apollo 13,” except it takes place on a planet, not in space. Technical and acting achievements aside, I was more invested in the real-life drama of astronauts stranded in space, than this fictional account. We knew, from the outset, that Mark Watney was going to be able to utilize the existing equipment left behind, with little concerns about his seemingly unlimited sources of power. I also think Mark should have experienced more crisis moments, during his wait to be rescued, instead of being so unrealistically plucky, throughout.

  10. AllHopeAbandon says:

    Great book! Sad to see a libtard injected into such a role…probably will skip movie.

  11. Mark Powell says:

    Mr. Tapley and Ms. Rodman:

    First Tapley: Okay; you asked; so here’s one for you:

    If you’re not even embarrassed to make such a fool of yourself, you can’t be helped: only the shame would give you a chance for improvement.

    First, “Dafoe” is not a typo, any more than, say, “Vice President Byden.” It’s (as, hello, I noted) *not knowing/recognizing/being able to write the name* of one of the great authors. *And* being willing to just take a guess. It’s not far above, e.g., USA Today’s recent citation, only typical these days for that paper, of happenings “while the negotiations [no kidding, not “went”] when on.” That’s not a “typo,” or even incompetence compounded by negligence such as Variety’s; rather, the drastic illiteracy that literally knows English only by colloquial *sound,* not in writing, and thus uses wholly wrong words. Variety’s lesser but still ugly misspelling rates as not even grade-school journalism, but clownery. In any case, do you also defend a “leading” mag, at least in the entertainment sphere, leaving it uncorrected so long? Would, or should, say, Jonathan “Zwift” (which could conceivably be a typo only b/c “s” and “z” are adjacent, but should of course instantly be seen even in the most basic proof by a lemur) or (more of “Dafoe”‘s type, I think) John “Milltin” have likewise gone unfixed?

    I see “Dafoe” has now finally been corrected — because of my supposedly offensive notice, which clearly was needed, as an ill body needs its medicine. (And you whine that it tastes bad.) Anyway, by defending that as a “typo,” and abusing that needed term for a whole universe of minor errors that might not rate as incompetence, rather “just” negligence, you lose any credibility you might’ve had… had you not made your other foolish remarks, re/ sols and how much sustenance with which Mark/Matt faces his challenge:

    Again note — since you either mendaciously pretend to ignore the key point or are too dim to grasp it — that I noted not seeing the film, rather simply reading and comparing a few reviews. I’ve also not seen the book, which might well say 400 sols (which would make a more realistic challenge, viz. extending his supply by a factor of ca. 3.6-3.7, to roughly four Earth years, than multiplying a month’s worth to four years). The other reviews I’ve seen, including outlets more respected than Variety, if touching the matter explicitly at all, say he has a month or 30 or 31 days. The (hello) character himself says 31, in a clip I’ve seen. All these references — absent any other reader/viewer exposure/familiarity with the product — clearly imply, nay state the supply (food and/or water) applies to Watney alone, not to (?!) what was to sustain the whole crew. (If the last, wouldn’t he say such as “I have a month’s supply for [X] people”? And how many were in the landing anyway? Last I checked 31 goes into 400 just about 13 times. But I get the impression (again, from reviews/clips/cast listing) the landing involved just a few people. So any rational reader/clip-viewer, seeing Variety’s “400,” would flag it, at least as suspiciously at odds with others.

    So Kris, why are you so desperate to defend the indefensible, rather than accept the obvious? Paid stooge? Just partial to Variety? And/or just dim? Whatever, yours is obviously a more wretched “angry little world,” attacking correction rather than error, than mine doing the reverse in dismay, disdain and wish for better (and, by my choice to date, almost never expressed publicly as here; most of the many thousands of top-outlet cases I’ve filed are more egregious than all this). I just want to see standards raised to within a few parsecs of what should be grade-school journalism and/or academe. *The Problem* is not too-mordant error-notices, but the ubiquity of such as, say (just in recent space-exploration news) Pluto-probe program *chiefs,* including *the* chief, so incompetent they say on NPR, BBC and elsewhere such as that radio signals to and from Pluto take months (!!, rather than a few or several hours), and that the probe left Earth with 10 times the moonbound Apollo crafts’ escape velocity (actually, from what I read, ca. 1.4 times; we’ve never flown anything at anywhere near a quarter-million mph). Or, also from NPR, and just this week — and much more typical of my files of many thousands of entries — Detroit-“expert,” Pulitzer-winner and Washington Postie David Maraniss saying “many hundreds of people” died in Detroit’s 1943 riot. (The universally reported figure is 34.). As ever, of course, with no correction from “erudite” hosts. Too embarrassing. People might say such as “Gee, if this ‘expert’ doesn’t know *that,*, *and* says whatever he feels like, *and* nobody corrects, all while bosses say such errors aren’t made and are corrected whenever they *are* made… Maybe the whole journo-academic landscape is full of s*&$. And *that,* *and* the prevasive, persistent intimidation and harassment of any even intimating let alone attempting whistleblowing, are The Problems.”

    So, understand just a little better now, clown, given my munificent, patient gentleness with you here in this little entertainment-mag example on which I decided to post a flag? Earth to Kris: Major, fundamental factual errors, especially of history, geography, science and math, are ubiquitous, due to rampant, unmolested incompetence *and utter* individual and institutional psychopathy IRT any notice of any error. That’s Reality. You seem the type — most common among the semiliterate and unethical — to excuse it all; say, the above examples; as “just verbal typos; just misspeaking.” You’d make a good pol, or flack for a pol, by prevailing standards.
    ++++++++++++

    Ms. Rodman: Likewise you too only make a fool of yourself, in your case by (like, apparently, in a different way [re/ “400”] the review) not even paying basic attention, in your case even to whom you address: You aimed to answer/rebuke me but addressed yourself to Tapley. Hard to take seriously anything after such as start.

    At least you, though, uh, “give me” “Dafoe” without calling it a “typo.” I don’t need you to “give me” anything. I’d like to see other readers say/post something, when, say… just e.g., from the files and off the top of my head as a (here Kris; enjoy) howler, in both stupefying error and stupefying lack of public ID of it; and not even unusual for CNN:

    CNN’s 2013 story on the Chelyabinsk-area meteor (the second such event in Russia in little more than a century, and a harbinger of a future world-historical event if not world-ender) reported — this is a good example of when such as “anencephalic,” rather than “just” “howlingly incompetent and brain-dead,” is rated — that (if I don’t recall this exactly, it’s close) *77,200 square miles* of glass was broken in that (not-so-glassy to start) Siberian city. That, for you spatially and even area-challenged types (a rubric covering seemingly almost all “top”-outlet journos and academics) is almost exactly *Nebraska’s* area. Of glass. Broken. In a Siberian industrial city. So *just how* stupid can things get before *some*one says *some*thing? When I saw that piece, ca. two months after pub, there were 1,161 reader comments. Fascinated, I scanned all, though maybe missed a few. Maybe half were sane (relatively good for MSM reader comments); i.e. rationally or almost rationally discussing the meteor from every conceivable PoV, rather than banging on about, say, the president being an illegal alien. But *not one* I saw noted the 90,000 lb. gorilla in the closet, the (cheers Kris) ludicrous inflation of the broken-glass area by well over, uh, (do you comprehend?) 100 million percent. (I looked up a credible figure for the broken glass, I think in square meters, did some should-be-second-grade math and figured it ca. 135 U.S. football fields with end-zones. That’s a lot of broken glass from an explosion 60+ miles away. But Nebraska?!

    This, again, while memorable, is not unique. It’s Where We Are In “Journalism.” And academe. Did you know the, say, University of Texas fanatically refuses to admit wrong one of its distinguished profs’ citation in a scholarly book of Montevideo as Chile’s capital? Or, say, PBS (among well over 1,000 such examples filed on a few years’ light sampling) continues to repeat, daily somewhere in America, on “History Detectives,” that President Taft was VP under TR? Hey, they put the words in the mouth of an Ivy League department chair, so it must be right. Or, say, the New York Times IDs Robert E. Lee, in a copyrighted feature that’s either a verbatim reprint of his 1870 obit or a modern notion of such, as Robert *Edmund*? (Atop, of course, badly erring on at least a dozen basic, major Civil War facts?)

    There’s your 15-minute Intro to Reality, courtesy one willing to try to help you not be jackasses and accomplices, as comsumer-lemmings, in The Problem that j-schools and media/academe “critics,” for all their 25/8 blathering about politics real and imagined, *will not discuss.*
    ++++++++++++

    So, people, toss whatever barbs you like at simple correction of negligence, incompetence and stupidity; they shame you, not me. My first post stands unscratched, based on all facts (and those stated as unknown). Were you adults you’d now man/lady-up and (as) graciously (as possible in the circumstances) own your fault while acknowledging the “editors.”‘ Ms. Rodman, maybe you can lady-up. I’m sadly pretty sure Kris can’t man-up.

  12. Mark Powell says:

    Earth to Variety and all posted commenters:

    17 posted comments, and not one on either of the two ludicrous howlers in this review, three weeks old as I write? As ever, be there 17 or 1,700 comments on a story in whatever “learned” outlet, I wonder if that’s because everyone’s anencephalic or because the outlet, rather than correcting errors, scrubs comments correcting factual errors.

    Daniel DEfoe, not DAfoe, wrote “Robinson Crusoe.”

    Faking Being A Learned Outlet 101 includes not name-dropping (here just the putative inventor of the modern novel and one of English’s acknowledged great writers) and *misspelling the name.* Maybe Variety (forget its “chief international film critic”) “editors” are confused between Defoe and living actor Willem Dafoe.

    Another syllabus item in FBALO101 is at least paying attention, however ignorant, to the review subject (i.e. actually reading the book, watching the film — *and* not making stuff up when not doing so). Watney/Damon is stranded with just “400 sols” (sol denoting a Martian solar day) of food? I haven’t seen the film — and I, unlike Variety’s illustriously incompetent, incompetently illustrious chief international film critic, won’t be paid to see it, let alone early at a foreign film festival — but all the several other outlets’ reviews I’ve now read, that touch that aspect, say he’s stranded with *a month* of food.

    A Martian solar day is ca. 24 hours 37 minutes, so 400 sols is 400-and-some Earth days. Well over an Earth year, many times more than a month. Still a fraction of the time before a supposed four-year-distant rescue mission, but wildly different than what other reviewers say is in the film.

    The second fault reminds me of, e.g., Roger Ebert’s review of 2009’s Clive Owen-Naomi Watts “The International,” citing Palestinian terrorists and nuclear weapons in the story. There are none. Ebert was confused with another film, and/or just made stuff up. And of course Ebert’s paper was apoplectic at notice of the embarrassing error, refusing to even admit let alone correct it (like virtually every supposed journalistic or academic outlet, on whatever hard-factual error).

    Let’s see if this comment posts and stays, and whether or not the errors are corrected.

    • 1) There is enough food to last one month for the entire crew. Since the crew is gone, with Watney left behind, that number is able to be stretched, with rationing, to 400 sols. This is explained in the movie.

      2) Daniel “Dafoe” is an easy enough typo to make, I’m sure just about anyone would agree.

      But please, give us another dissertation on how these two items (one of which is something you got wrong) count as “ludicrous howlers” in your angry little world.

      • Jeanette Rodman says:

        Dearest Mr. Tapley,
        You should have read the book, The Martian, in which Mark Watney clearly says he has enough food, at 3/4 rations, to last about 400 sols. Assuming they haven’t changed that in the film, this was not an error. I’ll give you Defoe, though. The book was terrific, and very funny. I hope they kept the funny. I am heartened to hear they kept the nerdy.

  13. Sanman1 says:

    “Conquest Of Space” is a1956 mission to Mars George Pal movie. check it out.

  14. gaurav says:

    does Sean Bean die in it :)

    • Chuck spets says:

      I read the book The story held my grateful attention with a vivid never boring or un-credible episode right to the very end. I am looking forward to the release of the DVD. Matt Damon is probably the best choice for the maim character. I believe it will be an international favorite.

  15. Maybe Rachel should review more movies, as I very much enjoyed this one!

    When I read “The Martian” I felt as though all of the detailed descriptions were begging to be filmed. I really want to see that tricked-out rover with the inflatable bedroom.

    And, as Rachel points out, it isn’t like the film adaptation is going to sacrifice a bunch of nuanced, subtle, prose relating to Mark’s inner life. I thought it was telling that whenever the character started contemplating anything as touchy-feely as, say, the quietness of Mars, he admonished himself and immediately returned to sensible topics like heat dissipation.

    But what intrigued me most was the notion that, in addition to a personal quest for survival, this story was also all about spending millions of dollars to rescue one individual. From the strict standpoint of ethical pragmatism, the argument could be made that this money could have been spent saving many, many more lives here on Earth. (You know, that whole “needs of the many” business..)

    But the underlying premise was an argument against an Ethical Optimization Algorithm in favor of the aesthetic desire to save this one salient life. Which means that this highly-technical science-geek movie depends entirely on an unquantifiable notion of human love.

  16. Bill Housley says:

    “…American space program sits mothballed.”

    ???????
    ?Really?
    ???????

    How many probes has Canada sent to Pluto recently?

  17. katz says:

    Mission to Mars and Red Planet were both awesome movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey is of course, the standard bearer.

  18. JT says:

    While the book was an exciting read and I’m sure Ridley will deliver an equally great movie, the entire setup for the story is based on impossible science, in a story where the hero has to ‘science the shit out of things’ to survive. The hero is stranded on Mars due to a deadly wind storm that nearly destroys the base and almost kills him — an impossibility. Mars has an atmosphere of just 1%. A hurricane force wind on Earth would be a mere breeze on Mars. There are plenty of things on Mars that could kill you but wind is not one of them.

  19. JAB says:

    It looks like Scott, Goddard & company did the novel justice. Sorry Star Wars toy collectors I am much more excited about this movie than anything with talking droids in it.

  20. Kaavish says:

    stopped reading after the low blow aimed towards George Lucas. Grow up.

  21. Ken says:

    STAR WARS is sci-fi? Hardly. It’s a fantasy – a great one, but fantasy nonetheless. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS/3rd KIND can be considered sci-fi. And really, ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER the most important sci-fi movies? Is the critic on some kind of space crack? How ’bout a little influential entry from 1968 called 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY…it was directed by a little known visionary named Stanley Kubrick. (You may want to add DESTINATION MOON and DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL to the list.) Still, can’t wait to see THE MARTIAN.

  22. pushingbits says:

    You mentioned Silent Running and I almost cried. I thought that jewel was forgotten.

  23. In mentioning Charles and Ray Eames’ film POWERS OF TEN, the article refers to them as brothers. This is incorrect. They were a husband-and-wife team. Also. have to quibble with the exclusion of 2001 in the “most influential sci-fi films” statement. It’s 2001, then maybe STAR WARS, then BLADE RUNNER, and then maybe METROPOLIS, then ALIEN, if one is being generous.

  24. Bill Warren says:

    I think the second most-influential SF movie is 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

  25. stevenkovacs says:

    I’m going to see it!

  26. 85wzen says:

    You should read the book first… it’s very good.

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