Postcard from The Martian

There have been a number of reviews of The Martian , and there are certainly going to be more. But this is going to be more of an opinion than a review, so what did I think of it?

It looks great, you could believe that Jordan really is Mars, and Matt Damon does an excellent job of being a botanist stranded on a planet with no company, limited resources and insufficient food. The technology looks exactly right too, sophisticated enough to be believable, and looks consistent with the artists impressions I've seen.

The movie is funny in places, particularly when he's growing potatoes in reconstituted shit. But it's strength comes from the way it concentrates on one man solving problems, one after another. Starting from a situation that really does look hopeless, he adapts the technology he has and survives. He even digs up the old Pathfinder probe, resurrects it and uses it's communications link to get in touch with NASA. It's quite cute when you see the Sojourner rover drivng round the potatoe fields.

The only problem I had with the movie is with the technology. It looks too idealistic, too much like what we hope a Mars mission ought to be, and nothing like what I'm araid it would be. Much as I like the Hermes (the interplanetary ship that took the team from Earth to Mars and back again), it looks almost too good. It would be hugely expensive to build, way more so that the ISS. Mind you, it embodies the right idea, at the end of the mission park it in Earth orbit so that it can be reused. A genuinely international collaboration could see a ship like that built, but the movie showed no sign that had happened.

If you're undecided, go and see it. If you don't enjoy science fiction, look at it as a story of one man overcoming obstacles. It's inspiring.

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