January 16, 2016
Posted by on
On the flight home from Puerto Rico the other day I took in The Martian. Of course the tiny screen did not do the film visual justice but it was immensely enjoyable nonetheless. The film was Hollywood at its best: big, beautiful, predictable and comfortable. It never fooled me about its impending happy end. What I liked best, though, is that it was a movie about grit and problem-solving. This is yet another wonderful movie with a message about how to live well on Earth. The key ingredients are science, love and faith.
There is practically no romance in this film beyond a few nods that do not distract us from the object at hand: the mission to Mars, how it goes awry, and efforts to rescue Mark Watney, efforts that do not go smoothly. It provides insight to risk management and the viewer is keenly aware that more often than not the players take excessive risks. They do so with their eyes open because for these choices it was better to die failing than not to have tried at all. Notice that big decisions are never taken lightly and come only after careful and rigorous analysis. No one is winging it. Everyone does the math, even if it is back-of-the-envelope.
Just because there is no romance does not mean that the movie is devoid of love. It is full of it, particularly among associates who work together on a mission for a common and noble goal to save a comrade who was inadvertently left behind. They are cheered on by the world and those of us in the theater.
The film ends in a classroom, with Mark Watney delivering a sermon:
“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”