One of my all-time favorite movies is Apollo 13 and I have used it before as an example of the snobbery of the Oscars when director Ron Howard wasn’t even nominated as Best Director. That, however, is not the point of this post. We recently watched The Martian and I consider it to be right up there along with Apollo 13 especially since there is a scene about halfway through the movie which takes a line directly from the predecessor. (No, it isn’t “Houston, we have a problem.”) Anyway, having seen Gravity and Interstellar (both entertaining), what sets this one apart is the attention to the science. (This is an advantage of having a hubby who actually understands this stuff.)
Anyway, if you haven’t seen the movie, an astronaut is stranded by his team on Mars due to an error and one of the intriguing aspects are the multiple Public Relations issues when the error is realized and courses of action are subsequently considered. At one stage the stranded astronaut, played by Matt Damon, is faced with at first a seemingly impossible task in order to survive. In recording the problems and trying to think through a solution, he uses the term, “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” As the movie progresses, this is often the case, and virtually all of what is “worked out” is feasible rather than using what the Myth Busters refer to as “Hollywood physics”. Of course there are intensely dramatic moments and while a particular problem solved by an offer of international assistance might be a tad far-fetched considering current politics, it is a situation where what’s right might override politics. It does happen sometimes in the real world. This is another of those movies though where you do have to pay attention because there are some complexities.