I’ve decided to write movie reviews on this blog as well because I don’t want to feel jaded writing on books alone.
For those who aren’t great readers of sci-fi novels, watching a sci-fi movie may be an alternative to imagining the futuristic world. “The Martian”, based on the novel by Andy Weir, tells the story of an astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) who becomes the first person to walk on Mars. Mark and his team are on a mission on Mars when a dust storm forces all of them to evacuate. Thinking that Mark is killed in the storm, the team leaves the planet without him. Alone, Mark uses his ingenuity and engineering skills to think of ways to survive an almost impossible situation.
When a novel is adapted into a movie, we can expect some scenes to be chopped off or reduced to suit the movie’s timeframe. The same goes with “The Martian”. While the book explains fully the detailed planning and calculations that are necessary for Mark’s survival, the movie glosses them over. Not surprising.
As the Martian’s continued existence depends on mathematical calculations, viewers, be prepared for most of the characters (whether on Earth or on Mars) to rattle off numbers like ABC. Right from the start of the movie, the first thing Mark does after discovering he is stranded alone on Mars is to calculate how much food he has and how long it can last. More calculation and problem-solving skills are explored in various scenes up to the end of the show. I won’t discuss those scenes further as I don’t want them to be spoilers (besides the fact that anything connected to numbers freaks me out). Suffice to say, “The Martian” is all about survival that is dependent on exploration and calculation.
Although “The Martian” is in some ways a predictable kind of movie (this isn’t the first time a story or a film has been made about a stranded person) its uniqueness lies in its light and humorous tone. I like how Mark looks at his situation in an amusing way, often talking to himself in video diary entries and trying to see each obstacle as a problem-solving exercise. Having a sense of humour helps, it seems. Of course, there are times when he does feel frustrated, but he doesn’t give up the fight. Even if you aren’t into sci-fi, the heart-warming nature of the film is good enough reason for you to watch the movie.
But I must admit to one thing. As I’m not good with numbers, watching the movie has left me a little anxious with this thought – if survival depends wholly on exploration and calculations, then those who are bad in numbers, even with that good dose of humour, have zero chance of surviving if placed in a similar situation.