I was in Nashville, Mrs. Salad was off to her meeting, and I was
unenthusiastic about going to yet another money-sucking tourist trap.
Nashville, bless its pecuniary heart, doesn't seem to have a lot of free stuff
to do. Even its
of the Parthenon will set you back $6.
So I went to the movies. Only slightly more expensive than the Parthenon,
even when you splurge, as I did, on 3-D.
The plot is simplicity itself: a Martian exploratory mission finds its
survival threatened by a surprise sandstorm which threatens to tip over
the rocket they plan to use to get off the planet. So they need to leave
in a hurry. But the storm rips off their communication antenna, which
careens into hapless botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon),
carrying them both off into parts unknown. The remaining crew decide
that Watney is certainly dead, and take off.
Why did they take a botanist to Mars anyway? The book's in my
TBR pile, so maybe that's explained there.
But (guess what?) Watney's not dead. But it appears he might as
well be: his supplies will run out long before there's any hope
of a rescue mission from Earth. His only hope,
he puts it: "I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this."
What follows is a tour de force of scientific resourcefulness,
sacrifice, and bravery. Adding to Watney's efforts, the
bureaucratic/scientific maneuverings at NASA/JPL and the returning
crew's ship are portrayed, far more interestingly than I would have
thought possible. (And it's genuinely funny in a number of spots.)
All in all, thoroughly enjoyable.
Matt Damon probably couldn't even cook a potato in real life, but he
(sorry) acts the shit out of this role. (Everybody else is fine too, but
no question: this is Damon's movie.)
The movie is also amazingly realistic:
I know (slightly) better, but I
can see how some people thought it was (a) based on a true story
and/or (b) shot on location.
I'm not sure it's worth seeing in 3-D though.