The Martian: Or, How Matt Damon Was Stranded on a Foreign Planet, YET Again.


With the Oscars this weekend, we wanted to share our discussion on The Martian, which has been nominated for several categories including Best Picture and Actor in a Lead Role (Matt Damon).

The Martian is the fictional story of NASA astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is left behind on planet Mars by his crew members who presume he died in a storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded Watney must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the foreign planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a rescue mission.


Kristen: I really think Matt Damon made The Martian a success. He was perfect for the role of Watney.


A few things felt off though, possibly a loss in translation from the book (which I haven’t read but have on my reading list). At the beginning, I didn’t really have enough of a sense of the relationships between Damon and the other crew members that made me feel like they would have went back for him.


Candace: Maybe it was not so much of their personal relationship with him as it was the “no man left behind” idea.  Also, before seeing the movie, I didn’t understand how the Martian could be categorized as a comedy for awards season, but Matt Damon managed to bring an unexpected lightheartedness to the movie.

Kristen: Yes!  Of course we all knew he would be rescued and he seemed to know that as well.  It was just the how! It was very Apollo 13 reminiscent. You had the NASA crew working to get him home.

Candace:  Good point.  I never really worried that he was never going to leave Mars.  I also felt like this was a more realistic space movie than Interstellar (which also features Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on a different planet.  What’s up with Hollywood trying to strand Matt in outerspace?!?) and less stressful than Gravity.


Kristen: Definitely felt like it could be happening! Did you feel like you wanted to know something about his family though? He mentioned parents, but we never saw anyone worrying over him. Maybe because it was a comedy?

Candace: That’s a good point. I think it was only a “comedy” because the studio felt like it had a better chance of winning awards in that category. No longer competing with all the strong movies in the drama category this year. I don’t think they produced the movie to be a comedy.

Kristen: Maybe not, but I agree with you that it had a lighthearted feel! And from a geek standpoint I loved that they used the Rover and so many plausible solutions!  There’s a NASA article I read that lists all the real things in the movie …

Candace: That’s cool!

Kristen: And I was totally with him until they disassembled the pod exterior and still expected it to have the same trajectory without windows…the aerodynamics were completely different!

Candace: I appreciate that they relied on real life NASA technology.

Kristen: Exactly, that’s what made everything so believable. But they expected a tarp to stay on at that speed?

Candace: They did at least acknowledge that it sounded crazy. But when stranded on Mars, what do you have to lose?

Kristen: Well, true but there is always a solution.  Wasn’t that the theme? And I have planted potatoes.  You can cut them up more than in halves! Just need an eye per chunk. But I loved the indoor farming, and the video diary.


Candace: Why did you plant potatoes??

Kristen: Oh, we always had a garden growing up! We planted all sorts of things. All in all I really liked it and I’m really looking forward to reading the book!


Candace: Agreed!  Do we know the authors background?  Engineer?  NASA?

Kristen: I read that he started out writing it on a blog! Not sure his educational background though.

Candace: Well that is neat!  From blog to Hollywood. The Martian!


For the full list of Oscar nominees, see below:


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