Ridge Report Writing and Photography Contest

This year, you can submit a short story, poetry piece, and/or photography connecting to one of three possible themes. Your options are "Hush", "Bang", and "Click". Be as creative as you want!

Entries will be accepted starting Monday May 1st 2017

The deadline for entering is Friday May 20th 2017

First place winners in each category (short story, photography, and poetry) will have their entry published on the Ridge Report website and will be awarded a prize.

Click on each category to submit and know about the rules and requirements.

Short Story

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Martian: Movie Review & Summary

Now Playing||Directed by Scott Ridley

When I first bought the ticket to see the Martian, I had very high hopes for the film. The movie sports a famous cast list including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Kristen Wiig. It earned 448.3 million at the box office and is still playing in theatres, making a name for itself in the top box office list of 2015.

It's also received many positive reviews as a film adaptation. According to a review on Rotten Tomatoes, critics found: "The result is an awe-inspiring adventure that explores vast ideas while staying grounded in very human emotional territory." Like many others, the critics judged and approved of the visual effects, the overall likability (due to Matt Damon's performance), and the scientific accuracy of the film.

* Spoilers Ahead *

In the beginning of the movie, I was highly interested in how they would start off with the plot. Before watching, from the promotional trailers and plot synopsis, I knew that it revolved around an astronaut who was left behind on Mars and was forced to survive. In the actual film, the story starts off with a mission on Mars in the year 2035, where a team of astronauts are swept up by an unexpected storm. In the middle of it all, one of them, an astronaut called Mark Watney, is hit by debris and disappears into the storm. They are forced to accept that he is dead, and abandon the mission. The message is sent to Earth, and soon, the whole world believes that Watney is dead. What they don't know is that he is actually alive, somewhere in the storm, and the piece of debris that pierced through his skin became a temporary seal that kept him alive. When the storm passes, Watney crawls his way to the crew's living quarters and spends his days there thinking for sure he won't be found. There is no way for him to communicate with NASA or let anyone know that he is alone on Mars.

Watney has a limited amount of food. As soon as he treats his injury, he starts rationing and planning immediately, as if being left behind on Mars is something that happened to him every day.

He finds a potato among his food supply and builds a greenhouse-like structure, which encases a sustainable environment to grow food. He even makes a source of water by burning hydrogen from leftover rocket fuel. This way, his problem of food and water is solved.

In the meantime on Earth, Mindy, a satellite planner at NASA, realizes through photos that Watney is alive. NASA director Teddy Sanders starts to organize a plan to communicate and to save Watney. At the same time, in an effort to make communication with NASA, Watney retrieves the Pathfinder probe that went silent in 1997. When they are able to exchange words, NASA tells Watney of their plan of sending a probe to Mars, with enough food to allow him to survive until they can rescue him. They do not tell Watney's surviving crew (who are still on the spaceship Hermes and making their way back to Earth) that Watney is alive, in fear that they would be distracted by the news.

NASA soon realizes that it's impossible to send the probe in time, so decides to skip the safety inspections. This backfires, as the probe explodes after liftoff. At the same time, Watney's greenhouse is destroyed after it explosively decompresses, killing his potatoes and reducing his supply of food. The China National Space Administration offers NASA a booster that can carry a payload to Mars. Meanwhile, an astrodynamicist figures out a way that they could send the Hermes back to Mars, (as it hadn't reached Earth yet) using the Chinese boosters to resupply Watney. When Watney's crew is finally told the news, they turn the Hermes around, using the gravity as it flies by Earth to slingshot back to Mars. Meanwhile, Watney prepares for takeoff. He leaves the shelter to get to a crater on Mars where a previous Mars Ascent Vehicle had landed. Hermes 'catches' him in space after the launch, and with some difficulty, gets him onto the ship. Watney then safely returns to Earth.

*End of spoilers*

Overall, the scientific facts of the Martian were very interesting, and it was all very realistic. The only disappointment was Watney's character, where I hoped to have seen more unique and distinct personality traits. This issue is especially striking because of the movie Interstellar (2014). Matt Damon stars in both movies as an astronaut stranded on a planet with low provisions. I found the two characters he played similar, even though one was a hero and the other a villain. And when Watney was left behind by his crew, his character was so calm it wasn't believable. What I would've loved to see was an emotional struggle within Watney's character as he faced the devastating situation. Instead, Watney makes video logs of his days on Mars, cracking jokes and enjoying his time alone on the planet. One would've assumed that if a man was abandoned on a planet alone, with no human contact and a constant threat of immediate death, he wouldn't exactly be in the right state of mind. With Watney, however, there is not a sense of panic, even though he knew for sure that he would die there. Even if he could be rescued, it was almost an impossible thought as he could not communicate with NASA, who believes he is dead.

Furthermore, it wasn't the best space movie I've watched. In fact, I thought it was a little bit long and found it to drag a little bit at the end. But it was interesting nonetheless, and the acting and soundtrack was great. Especially as a novel-to-movie adaptation, the film was spectacular and made a name for the itself, not just as a translation of literature. I find that this is rare in most cases of an adaptation.

In conclusion, I give the movie 7/10 stars.

You can watch the trailer for the Martian here or buy the tickets at Cineplex!

Thanks for reading.

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