Listen to our The Martian episode on:
- Google Play
- Player FM
- Pocket Casts
Ridley Scott’s The Martian is a real rarity in modern cinema – a serious-minded sci-fi movie that also has a sense of humour. It’s also a modern Matt Damon movie that isn’t actively terrible, which basically makes it the Box Office equivalent of a unicorn. But seriously, we really enjoyed this one, and we’d love to see more films that aren’t afraid to just be about smart people solving problems with logic and rational decision making… give or take the odd Iron Man-inspired space flight moment.
Matt Damon stars in The Martian as Mark Watney, a space botanist – it’s a thing, apparently – who becomes stranded on Mars after a research mission goes wrong and he’s left for dead by his team. The movie follows the good-natured astronaut as he attempts to ‘science the shit’ out of his predicament by fertilising potatoes using his own faeces, creating water by extracting hydrogen from rocket fuel, modifying a defunct space probe and more. Meanwhile, NASA employees down on earth soon realise what’s going on and debate the ethics and practicalities around attempting to rescue him.
That’s kind of the whole movie – there are no villains, no aliens, not even a huge amount of peril. It’s science fiction with a capital ‘S’, and all the better for it. The humour also derives from the characters – Damon maintains a dry sense of humour about his situation throughout, declaring himself a ‘space pirate’ and bemoaning the fact that the only music available to him on Mars is his departed captain’s collection of classic disco. It’s a difficult tonal balancing act, but the script, performances and Ridley Scott’s direction pull it all together almost perfectly.
Spoiler alert – Damon’s character escapes from Mars in the end, with a flash forward revealing that he successfully gets back to earth and becomes a University lecturer with terrible hair. How does this feed into our sequel ideas… you’ll have to tune in to find out. You can find this week’s episode on all good podcasting platforms by following the links at the top of this blog post or by searching ‘Beyond The Box Set’ on your preferred app.
Next week, we’re welcoming another special guest, who’ll be forcing us to make a return to the Taylor Kitsch-iverse. Until then, happy listening, and remember, poo may make a good plant fertiliser, but other compost options are available…