Official discussion for The Martian


  • Can't wait to see this, the book was fantastic. Just booked tickets at the Alamo Drafthouse for tomorrow, every good seat is already booked through Saturday.
  • i'm assuming were safe to go straight into spoilers?

    excellent movie. Only thing I had a major problem with was the second MAV that was already there for Ares IV. If the planet has consistent storms would it really be a good idea for them to land that thing way before the actual team lands? I mean it was the whole reason the team had to leave so it seems like a very bad idea to me. Maybe I missed something. I was also kind of keen to hear what he wrote back when he learned the entire world was listening. 
  • @Hatorian I haven't seen the movie yet but the book explains this clearly. The Ares IV MAV is delivered by the Ares III crew before they descend to the surface for their mission, because the MAV actually creates its fuel to re-enter orbit and this takes vastly longer than their 30 day missions. This largely accurately follows the science laid out in The Case For Mars for how we could go there and return.

    As for the storm, all the equipment is built to handle strong wind storms on the planet but the one in the beginning was just particularly violent and stronger than the tolerances could withhold hence the evac. If such a rare occurrence happened to an MAV fueling up for a future mission departure NASA would quickly discover it from satellite imagery and just have to scrap the mission/change plans.
  • thank @ghm3 ;

    that was probably mentioned in the movie and i just missed it. Really enjoyed the movie though. 142 minutes flew by. 
  • I can't weigh in on the film either, but I thought the book was great as well. Incredibly well thought out and never really feels cheap in how Watney gets out of the jams he finds himself in. The book also made me really regret not spending more time with science when I was in school. 

    NASA's been filling my news feed up in Facebook today with comparisons between their real tech and the movie/book, so that's been pretty cool checking that stuff out.

    Sadly the film doesn't open in Japan until February 5th. Really bummed I've gotta wait that long.

  • One other thing I questioned that wasn't explained in the movie was how did he live after being knocked out? Wouldn't he have frozen to death when he was knocked out? I get that there is a vast difference between night and day on Mars but if that storm blocked the sun for any amount of time wouldn't that be deadly?
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    "Science the shit out of this" also stuck out to me. I think it was too soon in the movie for him to play cute for a video log no one may ever see.

    I think with every story you're allowed one gimmick. If it's a gimmick that's required for there to be a story, well, I can swallow it if the story is good. So the implausible storm is, to me, a substitute for some unknown dangerous scenario we don't have enough scientific knowledge to be aware of yet. Yes, usually gimmicks are just implausible, not impossible, but... ehhh.

    Overall I really liked the optimistic tone of this movie. Very Star Trek. I love seeing that meet the public consciousness.

  • Saw this last night! I didn't have a problem with the "science the shit out this" line, but a lot of the other humor didn't quite work for me. Especially among the NASA group. The tone was always a little off, and it felt like they were trying too hard to make us laugh. Even Donald Glover, who's my favorite, didn't quite pull off his schtick. I loved everything else about the movie, though. I wonder if it would have worked better as a more intimate, Gravity/Castaway style movie that was all from Matt Damon's perspective, rather than the Apollo 13 style they went for.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Watley didn't freeze because the combination of blood and rod sealed his suit off, which allowed it to keep just enough pressure to keep him alive. The suits have environmental controls that can regulate heat and cold, in fact every space suit going back to the mercury days had some form of temperature control built in. I believe the reason he was slowly freezing to death in the Rover is because he was trying to save power by leaving the Rover and his suit's heaters off.

    Lots more technical details in the book, like how he controlled the temperature inside the Rover after installing the nuclear power source was to rip down the insulation from the roof. Too hot? Rip down the insulation. Too cold? Duct tape it back up.
  • I completely disagree this should have been more "Gravity-y" no reason to make a copy cat of a 2 year old movie. I'm very happy the tone is different because I enjoyed it much more.

    Great movie, I'm gonna have to watch it again in IMAX. Might read the book as well
  • i was so excited about this movie and then i saw this thread in the forums. so instead i got the audiobook and listened to it with my fiancee during a recent camping trip. we were even more excited both to see the movie! 

    all i can say is im so glad we know the book version. the movie was good. but the book story was just so much better. 

    so thanks for the heads up guys, you were right. 
  • LukeLuke Central Illinois
    Let's face it this is science fiction. It was a good movie but I'm getting a bit tired of the "yeah science bitch" meme. It was almost star trek Voyager level techobable to gloss over huge plot holes.

    If you were that close to plutonium that was giving off enough heat to actually make you sweat you would be dead within days. And that's if you had a hospital to hook you up to a machine to syphon off all the fluid from your dieing lungs.

    I'm not saying it was a bad film. But I think some people have a very warped sense of how much science can actually accomplish.
  • ArctorArctor The Netherlands
    @Luke Huh? Plutonium has a really low gamma- and neutron-ray emission rate so unless you ingest it it's not that dangerous. It's mainly an alpha emitter and that's only really a problem inside the body.

    Maybe you're confusing it with uranium or something?
  • mike_kmike_k Sunnyvale CA
    edited October 2015
    Haven't listened to the podcast yet, but here are my thoughts:
    Not a big fan of the whole Iron Man thing, especially because it didn't happen in the book and was a bit too Gravity-ish.  I agree about the humor - it seemed like they were forcing it... Too much cursing, bad delivery of the whole disco-music thing.  Honestly all-in-all I didn't think the story had enough substance to make it into a movie in the first place, but the book is a great read for anyone who likes problem solving/science/engineering.  The best parts of the story were when he encountered and handled the crazy problems the planet threw at him - e.g. the dust storm he encountered which the movie didn't cover.  Entertaining - yes... Worth seeing in XD - nah

    @ghm3 - did you end up seeing it at Cinema Drafthouse?  I love that place!!
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    edited October 2015
    @Luke, I haven't seen the film yet, so I'm just going off of the book here, but just to add to what @Arctor was saying, I was reading an interview with Andy Weir in Popular Mechanics and he said that in the initial plotting of the book, he wanted to have a breach in the RTG (the generator containing the plutonium) in order to give Watney another problem to solve, but he just couldn't make the numbers work and Mark would either die very quickly from being irradiated or he would freeze to death. So Weir dropped it as a plot point.

    He then goes on to say it was a good thing he dropped it as he later found out that RTGs don't actually contain just a hunk of radioactive material as he had thought. Instead, they contain lots of little pellets encased in lead. So in order to get irradiated you would have to first break open the container and then cut the pellets in half. So Watney really wouldn't be in much danger, handling the RTG.

    From everything I've read and heard it seems like most of the science is largely accurate, with some details being wrong here and there. There is one piece of tech that he did make up though. And that is the HAB's radiation shielding:

    Excerpt from a Mashable interview with Andy Weir: "There's just one thing that was completely made up. I vaguely mentioned that the Hab [Watney's home on Mars] is radiation shielded. But radiation is a huge problem in space. Mars has practically no magnetic field, and practically no atmosphere. So if you're on Mars, you're going to get pelted with radiation. It's dangerous — if people lived on Mars, they would all die of cancer. So I hand-waved around it by saying there's a radiation shield.

    But actually, you'd need ten centimeters of water or a full meter of rock to block the radiation. Radiation is a pretty significant problem that hasn't been solved yet. So the radiation shield was the made-up technology."

    Popular Mechanics interview:

    Mashable interview:
  • LukeLuke Central Illinois
    @DaveyMac yeah I hadn't even thought of that. Solar radiation is also another reason even getting to humans to Mars, much less staying there for any length of time, is a huge risk.

    IMO manned spaceflight for practical reasons is still Star Trek level Sci Fi. Robots just make so much more sense.
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    edited October 2015
    Yeah robots currently make more sense, but I do think it's important to do research and work on developing the technology to possibly do manned missions to Mars. As pointed out by NASA, Robert Zubrin ("The Case for Mars"), Weir, and I'm sure many others, a lot of this technology already exists and they are making great strides in developing it further. There are some major hurdles of course, but there are potentially huge benefits for the human race if those hurdles can be overcome, not just for space exploration, but for life on Earth as well.

    I think books/movies like "The Martian", while possibly accomplishing similar goals as Star Trek in terms of optimism and excitement about science, are doing something completely different with the technology in that most of the technology on display is practical and within in our grasp. In that sense I have to disagree that it is "Star Trek"-level Sci-Fi. It's much more in the hard sci-fi camp.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Zubrin's Case for Mars plans on having the hab's be buried under the Martian regolith, but if you go this direction, then it's a lot harder to jeopardize the hab by having it rupture or get torn or what not. 

    Just to add to the comments on plutonium, it's only really dangerous if you ingest it or inhale it somehow.  Alpha radiation is stopped by your thicker outer skin layer, clothing layers, even a sheet of paper, if I recall correctly.  Some Manhattan project era scientists used to play around with spheres of it, experimenting with neutron reflectors manually to see how close they could get the cores to criticallity without them actually going critical.  Turns out this is  as crazy as it sounds, and it killed two scientists that were exposed when the cores went critical for a few seconds.

    Otherwise, they're just kinda heavy metal spheres that are warm to the touch.

  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    edited October 2015
    Great movie. Anybody else consider it a The Newsroom spin-off with Will McAvoy moving on from asshole news anchor to asshole NASA director?
  • ArctorArctor The Netherlands
    Only scene I really hated was the Elron meeting. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to reference LoTR and have friggin' Sean Bean in the scene?

    So dumb. If I was Bean I'd have been so embarrassed.
  • JamesJames southern California
    You know I love you Jim, but I'm buying an "I'm going to science the shit out of this" t-shirt.

    I noted that one of the consultants was Chris Hadfield, who became famous for his YouTube videos from the ISS. In his book "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth," explains that no matter what a crew person's expertise, by the time they enter space they are expert plumbers, electricians, mechanical engineers, computer technicians, ER physicians, pilots, etc. In this sense the portrayal of Watney (and all of the Ares 3 crew) is right on.

    The movie certainly glosses over a lot of the details outlined in the book. Though not lengthy, the audiobook is less than 12 hours, but if you included his shorting out the Pathfinder electronics, tracking and avoiding the dust storm, and rolling and righting the rover and trailer, a 2-1/2 hour movie that is already a story of man versus Murphy's Law might end up looking like Ridley Scott beating Matt Damon to death with a baseball bat.

    Another hazard that Weir left out, probably worse than many of the others though not as dramatic, is the fact that (as A Ron pointed out) the dominant sediment on Mars, like the moon, is basically talcum powder. And because there is not water or humidity, static electricity will cause that dust to stick to everything. The biggest single annoyance (and eventually, danger) to a long-term resident like Watney would be the difficulty of getting seals to remain airtight -- at first an inordinate amount of time would have to be spent wiping dust from joints and door seals (not to mention cleaning motors), but gradually this fine grit would wear away at the metal or plastic of the joints, allowing more and more gap space to develop.

    I accept the fantasy wind storm (at least I haven't thought of another way to set up the plot) and the Hab's magical ability to repel high energy cosmic rays. I was disappointed that they switched out the sturdy hab canvas and super-resin he had in the book for plastic and bungee cords (and duct tape) when repairing the hole left by the detached airlock -- though Jim was right, that was a pretty intense scene showing him counting the potatoes, again I have to point out that there's no wind storm on Mars that could cause that plastic to bow inward against 83% atmospheric pressure on the inside.

    In the book, Watney's "Iron Man" suggestion isn't heeded, but it is what gives Lewis the idea to blow the main air lock to slow their velocity -- having her push Beck out of the way and jump into space at the last second, along with Watney actually puncture his suit, was an attempt to punch the drama of the rescue up to 11 -- In Jaws, blowing up the shark with an air tank was an element Spielberg chose over Peter Benchley's book, in which the flotation devices attached to the shark finally tire it out and kill it -- It's certainly heightens the drama, but I liked how all of their last minute adjustments in the book led to a more-or-less straightforward rescue by Beck.

    I also liked the books numerous salutes to Apollo 13, as Watney praises NASA's use of universal plumbing and electrical fittings -- and his assertion that "Duct Tape is magic and should be worshipped."
  • JamesJames southern California
    Arctor said:

    Only scene I really hated was the Elron meeting. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to reference LoTR and have friggin' Sean Bean in the scene?

    So dumb. If I was Bean I'd have been so embarrassed.

    Arctor -- until the end credits, I just assumed that it was not Bean. It looked like him, but he was still alive at the end, so...
  • mike_kmike_k Sunnyvale CA
    I'm in the works of trying to get Andy Weir to speak at my office.  Not sure it's gonna happen, but if it does - anyone have a question they'd like to ask?  If it happens I'll likely get to ask him directly - so post here
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    edited October 2015
    Yes, "Will you come on my podcast."  We've been trying to reach him too. :D

    And I must be crazy, because I thought the Elrond scene was hilarious, as well as sciencing the shit out of Mars.  I'm usually more eye rolling about nerd pandering, but it fit the slightly goofy tone of the astronauts in the book and film.

    Edit:  I just watched Adam Savage's interview with Weir.  I can't imagine I could do any better, it's really good.  
  • He was also on the Planetary Radio which got more gritty on some details especially with the orbital dynamics.

  • Not strictly related to the movie, but can someone explain to me how the F this movie got nominated for a Golden Globe in the comedy/musical category???
  • I can't.  That has to be a mistake, right?  That's really dumb.
  • Maybe all the jokes about disco? Alot of the comedy was aimed at music.. haha
This discussion has been closed.