xparrot: (WALL-E)
[personal profile] xparrot
Saw The Martian last night. Absolutely loved it, the best time I've had in a movie theater in a while. Okay, I'm on board with anything that has astronauts and scientists as Big Damn Heroes, but it's a great film all around.

Man vs nature - humanity vs the universe - is always one of my favorite plots, when there's no villain and everyone is working towards the same goal. Not that there isn't interpersonal conflict, but every character in the movie is absolutely devoted to the space program and the people in it, even when they have different ideas of how best to serve. Like, Jeff Daniels's NASA director could've been an antagonist, but despite his occasional dickishness he's clearly making the tough calls that he thinks are best for NASA. And then there are the amazing Chinese space program heads, and the poor overworked engineers at JPL, and Donald Glover's awesome scientist (even if he comes across a bit like Troy channeling Abed. Though that's more a feature than a bug.) And of course all the astronauts - Matt Damon does a fantastic and convincing job, but the whole crew is so great. I love how it manages to simultaneously be a single-man-against-all-odds story and a team-saving-the-man-down story. (Also, while I don't want to make a big deal about the female mission commander, because the movie didn't and that was one of the best things about it - yay for the female mission commander.)

The movie keeps the perfect tone, gripping from start to finish, with triumph and bright humor in all the right places to leaven the tension, and impressive pacing that successfully conveys all the time that passes without ever boring you with it. Make sure to visit the restroom before it starts rolling because it's one of those films that you don't want to miss a minute. And the science is solid enough that even the brother only had a few minor nitpicks (the biggest one being that the Martian atmosphere is too thin to actually get dangerous windstorms - it does get storms, but there's not enough air to significantly impact you no matter how fast it's moving. Hence decompression being such an issue, as it does correctly show later.) And ultimately he was so pleased with the accurate (and exciting!) orbital mechanics that he didn't care. (As a regular Kerbal Space Program player the brother is deeply annoyed by the majority of space movie action...) I could've done without the graphic injury/medical stuff at the beginning but otherwise - Flawless entertainment, four stars, would recommend to everyone!

Was in a particularly good mood for it because on [livejournal.com profile] naye's recommendation we've been watching the anime Space Brothers, which feels like it could be in the same universe (except there's no Japanese astronaut on Mars, but maybe Mutta was on an earlier mission!) I also recommend that to anyone interested in space exploration, or who'd like a story about someone in their thirties going ahead and pursuing their crazy childhood dreams - it's a slice-of-life anime about a salaryman who loses his job and enters the astronaut application and training program, following his younger brother who stayed committed to their childhood ambitions and is already a successful astronaut. (I admit, the running theme of being an older sibling surpassed by their younger sibs as adults plays very close to my heart, and it's not someone there's a lot of fiction about. And Mutta and Hibito have one of the most normal and healthy sibling relationships I've seen in anime or most other fiction, they're close but not dependent, competitive but loving even if they're both bad at staying in touch.)

The show is set in the near future and the space and technology details are meticulously researched; they consulted with NASA and it even featured the first voice acting ever done in space (a Japanese astronaut recorded a few lines on the ISS for the show.) It has that particular sort of pacing that most eps feel, if not slow then sedate, sweet and low on drama, and yet just enough happens that it's hard to stop watching - you get so wrapped up in the characters' lives that you want to know what happens next. And occasionally it will get unexpectedly intense. We've been burning through episodes and I'm going to be sad when it's over (onto JoJo's next, I suppose~)
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