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  • Shella Marie Burwell

A Journey on the Red Planet: A Film Review of the Martian


Realistic space exploration film “The Martian” is a 2015 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Micheal Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Mackenzie Davis, Donal Glover and Benedict Wong. Drew Goddart adapted the screenplay from the 2011 novel The Martian by Andy Weir. The movie depicts the challenges faced by an astronaut to survive on Mars after being left behind and presumed dead by his crew.

During the Ares 3 manned mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) and the other crew experienced an extreme dust storm, which left them with no choice but to withdraw from the mission. The terrifying storm almost destroyed their base and ship. The commander (Jessica Chastain) assumed Watney was dead and left his body behind. Little did they know that Mark had survived and found himself alone on the hostile planet. The thing is: how will Watney survive living on Mars until the next manned mission with only a limited amount of supplies?

“The Martian” portrays the role of science and technology in tackling challenges of living on Mars and space exploration. It presents human resilience as Watney remains alive and maintains his determination to fight and survive despite his dire situation.

Despite his situation, he was able to grow 400 Mars-grown potatoes, using his own faeces combined with the Martian soil. On a planet where nothing grows, it's a good thing he was a botanist. He created a machine that produced water for his plants. He was also able to repair his equipment, including the Mars Ascent Vehicle he used to travel. He managed to dig up the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. With his activities, NASA became aware of his situation and worked hard to bring him back home.

Looking more closely into the details presented, the film is full of interesting knowledge that not everyone might have known. When NASA wasn’t yet aware that Watney was alive, Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) said that Watney’s body would never decompose on Mars, and Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) replied that the body would be covered in sand.

Moreover, the film showcases groundbreaking science and cutting-edge technology in several ways. Firstly, NASA was able to build a habitat for the astronauts, called Hab, that has life support systems to sustain the crew during their stay. This was also where Watney was able to grow his own food. Secondly, NASA discovered that Watney was alive when satellite images of the landing site showed evidence of his activities. Thirdly, Watney discovered the pathfinder and used it to contact NASA by sending message over radio waves using images taken with the spacecraft's camera. Furthermore, the film presets the science behind the bomb, crafted by the crew using sugar as the fuel. Last, the advance communication between the astronauts and NASA is showcased. They were able to live broadcast the entire rescue operation to the world.

Furthermore, the entire film highlighted the significance of overcoming the fear of being alone. Despite facing the prospect of potential death, Watney took action and was able to survive and overcome the challenges he faced on the red planet. As is said in the movie: work the problem and do the math. Equipped with determination and hope, he unwaveringly believed in the possibility of soon returning to his homeland.



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