Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Martian

Being a Silicon Valley Engineer, one's interest is piqued when reading about Andy Weir's story about how he self-published his book - because no publisher wanted to touch it. After it became popular on Kindle, Crown Publishing finally published the book - that Joe Morgenstern (of Wall Street Journal) said was the best pure science fiction novel in years.

When the book is made into a movie directed by Ridley Scott, it became a "must see".

The movie certainly did not belie expectations. The thesis of the movie is how astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and gets left behind on Mars. Watney survives the storm and must draw upon all his ingenuity, training, science, engineering, wit and spirit to subsist to find a way to signal to the command center in Earth that he is alive. You love the way Watney uses-science-to-solve-problems. Even the non-science folks in the audience will find themselves applauding and egging him on to succeed. Sometimes he is foiled by Nature and sometimes his is foiled by error. He never gives up even when all hope seems to have faded.

The most appealing facet of the movie to me was the fact that it had no gun-toting, evil-minded villain. There is a sense of humanity and instinct of survival built into every frame. You find yourself rooting for Matt Damon not for some contrived reason (of getting back home to his anxious, forlorn wife or children), but because you want his courage, hope and doggedness to succeed.

Inevitably, this movie will be compared to Appolo 13. Twenty years later, I must admit that I watch reruns of the Ron Howard classic. Appolo 13, however, had too many emotional strings and sentimentality. Martian, on the other had, succeeds with wit and humanity. It is incredibly enjoyable and totally worth watching