Escape to Mars

A welcome escape from reality.

A welcome escape from reality.

If movies are an escape from the banality of ordinary life, then the timing could not have been better to see “The Martian.

As the weekend neared, Lori and I had already planned to see a Sunday matinee. After the carnage in Paris, we could not have made a better choice.

In contrast to the real-life hatred and religious zealotry responsible for the bloodshed in France — and let’s not forget Beirut, Lebanon, either — “The Martian” presents an enthralling glimpse of a world united in rooting for the safe return of an American astronaut left behind for dead on a mission to Mars.

Implausible? If we’re talking about the plot, yes. At least, in this point in time. The notion of a manned flight to the Red Planet remains the stuff of science fiction. And to think that a single astronaut could survive for more than a year there with limited supplies stretches the bounds of imagination.

But that’s the beauty of an engaging story that’s well told on the big screen. Director Ridley Scott and a great cast led by Matt Damon ask us to suspend our belief in service to an engaging narrative, one fraught with tension that builds with each scene.

There’s much to like about the movie, not least of which is that Damon, as astronaut Mark Watney, must solve one problem after another to stay alive and, later, to communicate with NASA and his crewmates. As a trained botanist, Watney figures out how to grow vegetables on Mars, but then also has to confront other challenges involving chemistry, biology, physics and astrophysics. It’s fascinating and inspiring.

Implausible? If we’re talking about international cooperation between the United States and China or about moral choices pitting the survival of an entire flight crew vs. the survival of a single crew member, no.

In real life, we’ve seen the world come together in support of Chilean miners trapped underground and other people victimized by catastrophic accidents and natural disasters. Would it happen under the circumstances presented in “The Martian.” I’d like to say yes.

I’d like to believe that despite the spilling of innocent blood late last week, people around the globe would recognize the humanity in a desperate situation and rally together.

For 2 1/2 hours, I was all too happy to leave behind the reality of wanton violence and escape into a captivating sci-fi flick. Thanks, Hollywood.

“The Martian film poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

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2 thoughts on “Escape to Mars

  1. We are all connected. I, too, love seeing that on display.
    Thanks for the movie review. I wasn’t interested in the “space” movie. Now I am. Would you recommend it for taking my boys (8 & 10)? They know bad language, I always watch out for gun violence or sex. It’d be difficult to have sex in space. … 🙂

  2. It was such a delight to see this movie, E. There’s no sex and no gun violence — and when is the last time you could say that about a Hollywood film? It’s all about ingenuity. (Your boys will love seeing how Damon grows potatoes in a place where it can’t be done.) It’s all about courage and never giving up in the face of impossible odds. It’s about the incredible teamwork — on Earth and in space — needed to try to bring him home.

    There may be a few swear words and some political references that go over their heads, but it’s a film that leaves you deniably respectful of science and feeling good about the human race.

    I’m normally not a fan of science fiction, but this one story transcends the genre.

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