Today I did something that I rarely do. I paid to see a new movie. I usually like to wait a year or 30 before I watch a movie. I like to make sure that all of the reviews are in before I spend any money. But something drew me to see The Martian (2015). I think it’s because Chris Matthews dropped a major spoiler on “Hardball” when he interviewed the stories author Andy Weir.
So on a Saturday afternoon, I found myself sitting in the theater wearing my high-fashion 3D glasses. Yes, I made the mistake of picking a 3D movie when I was interfacing with the machine that has replaced the human ticket seller. Did you know they now have assigned seats? But that’s another issue.
Back to The Martian (2015). I am going to say right off the bat that this was a very fine movie. The CGI was amazing and didn’t really need the 3D effect to carry the movie. Jessica Chastain was amazing but that is to be expected. There was a rather large and talented supporting cast and it was great to see Kristen Wiig expand beyond her comfortable comedy roles. However, the movie had enough comedy in it to break the tension pervaded the movie.
Go see this movie in the theater. This movie brought back memories of a few older movies and if you are like me you might want to check out these older films where many of the plot elements can be seen.
Of course, the first movie that I thought of was Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). IMDb summarizes the movie as “Stranded on Mars with only a monkey as a companion, an astronaut must figure out how to find oxygen, water, and food on the lifeless planet.” This is not so different from the dilemma of Astronaut Watney. Of course, Watney didn’t have a monkey or a Man Friday. Or did he? Beep.
The next movie in the list is Dark Star (1974) written and directed by John Carpenter. IMDb says “In the far reaches of space, a small crew, 20 years into their solitary mission, find things beginning to go hilariously wrong.” I thought this in for the problems with solitude and the inherent comedy. Our supply of toilet paper has been destroyed.
The third movie hits very close to The Martian (2015) except it’s a little closer to home. IMDb says of Marooned (1969) “Three American astronauts are stranded in space when their retros won’t fire. Can they be rescued before their oxygen runs out?” It is a very intense movie and does a good job showing the mission command side of the problem and the political considerations that must be made. And there might be a special visit from an old enemy. Also, Gene Hackman stars as one of the astronauts.
The final movie Capricorn One (1977) is very different than The Martian (2015) but it shows another side of mission control and it’s just a good movie. IMDb states: A NASA Mars mission won’t work, and its funding is endangered, so they decide to fake it just this once. But then they have to keep the secret…”
I am recommending that you see The Martian (2015) on the big screen but check out these other four movies. Remember you have to know where you have been to know where you’re going.
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