We went to see The Martian on Saturday. Interesting and enjoyable, but not as good as Apollo 13. We saw it in 2D, but a friend who saw it in 3D described it as “unmissable”. In structure, it’s a bit formulaic — if you’ve ever read one of those ‘how to write a screenplay that sells’ books you’ll be able to predict how it evolves. But the big difference with Apollo 13 is that The Martian is pure fiction, whereas the earlier film told a version of something that actually happened, and so was significantly more gripping.
Still, the takeaways from The Martian are useful. They include:
- Never underestimate the significance of potatoes
- The importance of ‘maker’ and DIY skills — the very skills that are atrophying because of our addiction to black-box technologies with “no user-modifiable parts”.
- The usefulness of engineers and geeks, especially those who are good with mathematics.