No aliens. Just alienation. That’s the theme of Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi blockbuster, The Martian
Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, botanist on the U.S. spaceship Hermes
, whose manned mission to Mars gets cut short by a severe storm. In the chaos, Watney is left behind and presumed dead. In short order, he “decides” to survive and proceeds to use his MacGyver-like skills to solve every new problem on the harsh and remote planet. Though he’s too busy to feel lonely, even that is remedied when he digs up an older Martian probe and re-establishes communication with NASA. It’s cumbersome, but at least E.T. finally gets to phone home.
Massive amounts of money have been devoted to getting the actor Matt Damon home in movies such as Saving Private Ryan
. His boyish charm still seems to demand a happy ending, and audiences will be dutifully rooting for him, despite his competent ingenuity, optimism and luck. Disappointingly, however, Watney’s personality is fairly one-dimensional, consisting primarily of a wry sense of humor and cocky self-sufficiency, peppered with an occasional outburst of profanity. The music also plays a major role in developing Watney’s persona. Similar to the sci-fi hit Guardians of the Galaxy
, The Martian
soundtrack relies heavily on annoying 70s disco hits. This has the effect of lightening the pathos of the marooned character and providing a constant source of therapeutic humor.