An open letter to NASA about The Martian

Hey NASA,

What’s up guys. Glad to see you’re still kickin’ it; you’ve been doing some really good work. “The Martian” is quite an impressive project for you to have taken on, and it ended up being pretty amazing. There’s so much to say about the film, but first I think we need to resolve a more important issue:

28 September 2015: NASA confirms liquid water flows on Mars.

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Why are you lying to us NASA? We know Matt Damon was up there filming on site for “The Martian”; surely he would have told us about this upon his return.  hqdefault

With this kind of knowledge comes huge power, a power which he would surely have used to quiet down all the “Deflategate” talk, instead of having to take the blame himself:

But when you look at the order of events, things start to make sense:

2 October 2015:  Release date for “The Martian”, starring Matt Damon.

Oh, ok, we forgive you NASA,  You were confused, you obviously hadn’t seen the movie yet. Water doesn’t actually flow on Mars, Matt Damon just has to create it in order to survive while stranded up there. You weren’t too far off, but still…check your facts. I realize he wasn’t giving you much to go on in those ridiculously short emails you guys shared once communication was established…I mean I send longer text messages about my puppy than his response to “How are you alive?”.But despite this huge mishap, there are quite a few things for which the world may commend you.

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From the Mars rover Curiosity

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From on site footage of ‘The Martian’

“The Martian” is a freaking beautiful film.  We are so glad you realized those shots from the Mars rovers aren’t cutting it, and that you finally sent a movie camera up there to capture the real essence of the place. Also, shooting in 3D made the film even more brilliant, which is something difficult to accomplish. Usually 3D movies are just headache inducing, but I decided to try it out based on the recommendation of celebrity podcaster, Thomas Horton, via CineNation (Facebook, Twitter), who said, “The 3D never felt like it was coming out at you, more than anything it worked to add depth to the shots.”  It allows us to feel the grittiness of the forsaken planet up close while also marveling at the vast expanses of landscape stretching on endlessly. Good call with that one, NASA. And also good call for sticking with the idea of making this project just as much about art as it is science, and providing a script.

I know you guys struggled a bit on the script side of things in your last two space films.  Gravity was stunning visually, but the human element did little besides push the story along every now and then…and you must have been going through your stoner phase when writing “Interstellar”, but “The Martian” is incredibly organic. There’s a shining camaraderie among the Ares crew, but they’re also realistic. They listen to the numbers, only allowing their feelings to play a part in addressing margins of error; they’re always willing to take risks for each other, but not unreasonable ones. You also address the frustrating bureaucracies of a government agency such as yourself, but you don’t place the stereotypical sociopath at the head of the operation, rather a real human character willing to bear the consequences of doing whatever it takes to rescue his astronaut. But perhaps the greatest attribute of the script is its central character.

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If Matt Damon’s character (Mark Whatney) would have been any less hilarious, our long periods of time alone with him on Mars might have become a little depressing. His situation is no easy one, he spends almost two years in solitude, the first part of which he had zero contact with Earth and thus zero hope of being rescued. His response to this bleak situation is what makes the movie so enjoyable.  Instead of long contemplations on how he will face his own death, he decides to “Science the shit out of this!” in order to prolong his survival, and maybe discover something while doing so. He finds the humor in almost everything he does, making more than the occasional astute observation that glorifies his situation in the most hilarious way.  Needless to say, you guys did a brilliant job on writing this character.  I think you outlined the ideal astronautical candidate. But to find someone to play this brilliantly written character was just as imperative a task as writing him or her in the first place.  And you guys nailed it.

While it may have seemed to be a good idea at the time to pick this guy to be stranded with in outer space,

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after “The Martian”, it’s clear that it doesn’t get much better than Matt Damon. He’s got all the desirable qualities:

1.  He’s brilliant.

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2.  He can do some pretty awesome stuff under pressure.

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3.  He’s a good team player, and obviously worth saving.

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4. He’s hilarious.

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5. *Spoiler* He’s already been to outer space.

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Like seriously guys, how did you not see this before? Nonetheless, you decided to send Damon up at the perfect time, with the perfect script, and all the means to make an excellent film.  Damon literally combines all of his best qualities and delivers emphatically.  You gave us everything we want out of a story, and especially out of an outer space odyssey: comic relief aplenty, a great joke to science ratio, mesmerizing visuals, an incredible central character defying all odds, a Donald Glover cameo, and Matt Damon. Anyone would be crazy to miss it. You did good on this one, NASA, but what’s next for you guys?  Its like Neil Armstrong all over again, “The Martian” is going to be hard to top.  But I can assure you that we all will be waiting here anxiously to see what’s planned to come. Keep up the good work.

Signed,

All of the Human Earthlings via Bradley Harrison

 

P. S.

Proper credits for the film:

Directed by Ridley Scott, screenplay by Drew Goddard based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir.

P. P. S.

Shout out to Ridley Scott for once again allowing the subtleties of the film to be its driving force. That’s difficult to do, especially with such a huge film. Good to see ole Ridley back in stride.

 

 

 

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Bradley Harrison is a senior at College of Charleston. After a long and painful stint as an engineering student at a university in Georgia which you probably have never heard of, he has decided to come back home to his native Charleston and study Spanish and Education. As a keen observer of pop culture, he loves art house cinema, Pitchfork.com, and the Ringer. FOH Army for life.


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