In Your Face, Neil Armstrong: The Martian Movie Review

mark watney matt damonA few weeks ago I encouraged all of you to go check out Andy Weir’s novel The Martian (or the audiobook version, if you’re like me and spend a lot of time in the car). Even if you’re not usually a fan of astronaut-survivalist, will-he-or-won’t-he dramas, this book has great messages about the human spirit and includes lots of diversity to boot.

Last Friday I went to see the film on opening day—I was excited enough to fork over $23 for my ticket, popcorn, and some cherry Coke for The Martian. And with recent announcements about NASA finding water on Mars, the buzz for this film couldn’t be any better. So how does it measure up? Is it as good as the book? Well…

Spoilers below the cut.

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The Everyman vs Every Human: Why The Martian Is Worth Your Time

the martian bookI’ve been traveling a lot for work lately, and instead of listening to the same twenty songs on every radio station I pass, I’ve opted for an Audible subscription, so I can entertain myself with audiobooks. My first choice was The Martian, by Andy Weir. The Martian follows in a well-established heritage of survivalist fiction, but in a way that counts as science fiction. There’s a movie coming out next month starring Matt Damon and a bunch of other famous actors, which is what initially inspired me to “read” the book. The premise for The Martian is simple: American astronaut Mark Watney is left for dead on the surface of Mars when his team is forced to flee a massive dust storm… except whoops, Mark’s actually alive. What follows is a story of questions: Can Mark survive? Will he ever be able to contact Earth, and if he does, can he even survive long enough to come and get him? How much is one person’s life worth, anyway?

I won’t spoil the ending for you, I promise. But I do want to take a look at how The Martian is a wonderful, thought-provoking new addition to the world of science fiction on multiple levels. Science fiction isn’t just about advanced technology and space stuff; the real hallmark of the genre pushes for answers to the big questions of life in new ways. It imagines what could be, not what is. The Martian has a universal quality to its story, and that’s what makes it a success.

Minor spoilers for The Martian below the jump.

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Futurama: They’re Back, Baby!

Futurama is back with a new season! Woooo! Hoooo! This one hour episode “The Bots and the Bees” and “A Farewell to Arms” was pretty awesome for a Futurama season opener. The first part was mainly about everyone’s favorite thieving robot Bender. After the purchase of a sassy beverage dispenser named Bev, things start to get interesting. What started off as a fight for the honor of two bimbo bots, Bender and Bev soon start banging, literally. Soon Bev dispenses a cute little miniature Bender. After little Ben is abandoned by his metal mama, Bender becomes a fantastic father. After a montage of father and son stealing and property-damage-based bonding Ben grows into the awkward adolescent stage of a growing robot. Little Ben’s dream is to be a bender like his dad, but he didn’t inherited it from Bender. To install it would mean to lose his memories, including those of Bender. Eventually Bender selflessly installs the bending program so that his son can follow his dream.

This was a really interesting episode; here we learn how robots reproduce (I always wondered) and that Bender, for all his evil and selfishness is capable of caring for something other than himself. Who would of thought Bender would make such an excellent dad? Though it isn’t too much of a surprise do to his occasional emotional attachment to his best friend Fry and he has often displayed emotions over such things as broken robots and helpless turtles. Even though his son eventually didn’t remember him, Bender still loves him.

The second part was about the Martian calendar and its prediction for the end of the world in 3012. Amidst the chaos is the chivalrous Fry and the lovely Leela. In classic Fry fashion Fry is constantly trying to do nice things for Leela, which always seems to backfire. While trying to join the balcony club, the two one-sided love birds are alerted to the end of the world translation. Panic soon engulfs the world. Luckily they find an ancient Martian space ship in an underground pyramid. Since the ship can only hold 30,000, the president sets up a machine that chooses each person based on merit. Due partly to his lucky pants Fry has a ticket, due to Leela’s unfortunate choice of career, she is not. Fry does the noble thing and manages to trick Leela to go on the ship to Mars without him. Unfortunately it turned out that the translation was wong, dead Wong (due to Amy.) It turned out that the prophecy was meant for Mars, not Earth. Once again Fry messed up. Mars soon starts to skim the Earth, Fry tries to save Leela, but manages to tear her arm off instead. She is saved by Scruffy and his trusty ladder.

This episode was a typical “Oh are they in love now?” episode or an “is Leela still not over Lars’s death who was actually alternate-timeline Fry and so should just be with him, damn it?” episode. Although I love Fry and Leela relationship, they have begun to wear on my rooting arm. Their ambiguous affiliation is frustrating to fans (or at least to me) and I was hoping for a little more depth, or at least some progress from these two. Fry is constantly proving his love to Leela and she for some reason does and also does not return it. Although this particular episode had a happy ending, I still was a little pissed at Leela’s attitude. If you don’t like him, reject him! If you do, accept him! Zoidberg Jesus people!

Anyhoo, overall it was an excellent start to what is sure to be an excellent season! If you have never seen Futurama, it is available on Netflix, and they often have reruns on Comedy Central. Futurama is on Wednesday’s at 10:00PM on Comedy Central.

Movie Review: John Carter

I realize that I’m getting to this one a little late, considering that it’s been out for almost a week, and I would have seen it sooner, but you can blame work and my adamant refusal to watch it in 3D, which severely limited my viewing options. But I finally saw it last night. It’s movies like these that always leave me in awe, awe that so much money went into something where absolutely nothing interesting happened. John Carter is a typical science fiction movie with typical science fiction everything. It adds nothing new to the viewing experience.

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