The Martian (2015) Is an Incredible Movie About Solving Impossible Problems Together

(CW: I talk about my abuser and reclaiming memories he’s tainted but don’t get into specifics of the abuse.)

Every human being has a basic instinct: to help each other out. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.

This is the first time I have seen this since I saw it in theaters. I saw it with him. He was really excited for it. I was, too, because I love me some space bullshit, but he had read the book and stuff so yeah. This was during a time when I saw a lot of films with him, and he unfortunately left a mark on quite a few of them in my memories, but this one is strongly associated with him.

I did love it when I saw it, though. It was in a virtual tie for my favorite movie at the time with Mad Max: Fury Road. The way I look at movies has changed a lot since then, so a lot of my feelings and (especially) ratings of movies from that time are kinda sus. The strong association with him made it extra hard to trust my recollection, but my gut feeling was still that I would enjoy it when I got around to seeing it again. And to my great relief, that ended up being the case.

Although not watching it in the interim did have a lot to do with my uncertainty, I think this ended up being pretty much the perfect situation to revisit it. First of all, I had my arch-nerd fiancx and girlfriend who both have read the book and both are major math and engineering geeks, so that helped overwrite a lot of those associations. My boyfriend had also seen and enjoyed the movie previously, and we often have similar feelings about storytelling and how it works/doesn’t work/should work, so yeah. Kind of the perfect group to revisit this with.

It also helps that just, like… duh, of course I love this movie. I’m kind of always an easy mark for space movies, but this one actually has an additional factor going for it. Once NASA realizes that Mark is alive, the story becomes about this incredibly huge group of smart and dedicated people putting all their resources into saving him. Just tackling impossible problem after impossible problem because failure isn’t an option. And yeah, hi? Are you kidding me? I’ll take two! That is exactly my kind of shit.

Add to that the fact that they managed to make Mars look just beyond gorgeous, and the fact that there is a lot more humor and characterization than I remembered. I love how much mileage they got out of little moments in Mark’s video logs where he says things like, “Luckily [holds up his mission brief] I’m a botanist!” and, “So. Yeah. I blew myself up.” And it’s all just so relatable and personal.

I also forgot how amazing Commander Lewis is! (This is one of Vanessa’s favorite things about the movie.) She’s so damn dedicated to her team and constantly putting herself in harm’s way so no one else has to, she’s like a human-shaped wrecking ball when one of her team needs something. It’s just the absolute perfect approach to leadership. And it makes it so cathartic and emotional when she’s the one who catches Mark. That’s when I started crying the first time I saw it. This time it was when everyone in mission control and around the world was cheering and celebrating.

This movie is incredible and I’m so glad I can say that without any doubt again.

It isn’t his, it’s mine.



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