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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Mars Setback

The Martian (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Near-futuristic Mars research mission Ares III dug in on Acidalia Panitia detects the approach of one wicked dust storm. The crew scurries back to their launch vehicle (“We've scrubbed”) as the wind picks up speed. Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is impaled by flying debris (“He was hit”), disappears in 3D mayhem, and loses his biometrics telemetry (“L.O.S.”—S.O.L. spelled back­wards.) Mission commander Jessica Chastain (Melissa Lewis) orders “Launch,” figuring Mark for a goner.

The newspapers read, ARES III ASTRONAUTS COMING HOME. A Senator eulogizes, “Mark is dead.” A down but not out Mark Watney, with a flesh wound and a torn biomonitor, patches him­self up, takes stock of his situation (“F__k!”), but does not despair (“I'm not gonna die here.”) He proceeds to tackle his seemingly insuper­able problems one at a time (“I'm gonna have to science the sh!t out of this.”) Unfortunately, he's “not a real scientist,” he's a botanist. The good news is a botanist is what's needed when you've got a 30 day packaged food supply, and there's nobody coming for another three or four years. He becomes a spud farmer and ventures out to scavenge useful matériel from past missions.

NASA works on a chancy rescue plan. There's a “Council of Elrond.” The in­bound crew plot a daring mutiny. The Chinese wonder, “Why hasn't NASA approached us?” (¶“Beats me”—“Wo bu zhidao.”) And as an audience member noting Mark's eventual retrieval is in the dainty feminine hands of commandress Jessica I'm relieved to see that political correctness has made it safely to Martian installments.


From my scientific background (I have a degree in engineering), I read this story as an elegant refutal of some scientific misconceptions dating from the nine­teenth century concerning radiant and convective heat loss … which ideas, unfortunately, occupy our news today, October 12, 2015. I'll give you a summary explanation, starting with the water cycle from the Bible, (Job 36:27-33), and you can see how much progress has been made by the time you read this, .

For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. Also can any under­stand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea. For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance. With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt. The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.

solar radiation Job gives the vapor (as seen emanating from the big nostrils of cows) rising to form clouds, condensing into rain­drops, watering the ground (all the way down to the bottom of the sea), and producing food crops. The word meat there in the Bible was used to mean food in general, as, say, in Tolkien: “‘Let others deal with these irk­some guests. Your meat is about to be set on board. Will you not go to it?’ ¶“‘I will,’ said Théoden. ‘And let food for my guests be set on the board beside me’” (123). Sunlight provides illumination. Clouds provide shade. Temperature differences drive the winds and clouds. Lightning and thunder produce a display that puts man in fear of God who may also use the weather for judgment.

Up on Mars Mark also produces his own water cycle. There's thunder when he starts igniting hydrogen to make water. It condenses on the walls to produce droplets that will water his plants, fertilized by human excrement retrieved from the flusher. Growing plants, Mark tells Mars, “Fear my botany power!” Just as in the Book of Job we're reminded to fear God for the earthly water cycle that grows our food.

The kicker is when there is a “malfunction” breaching the HAB letting out all the air, thus freezing the plants. This is convective heat loss. The walls of the green­house—whether on Earth or on Mars—keep the warm air from circulating outside, maintaining the comfort zone of the hot­house. If the warm air goes out, it gets cold in there. Only it's much more dramatic on Mars.

In order for Mark to venture any distance in the Mars Rover without wasting battery power on heat, he digs up the spent Plutonium to set in the back seat to keep him warm (not recommended save for in an emergency). This is conductive (through the surfaces) and radiative heating (directly.) The molecular radiation from the Pu-239 is absorbed (most of it, I hope) by the lead container box that then conducts it away and also reradiates it as heat. The Mars atmosphere is too thin to heat him by convection.

A fission bomb, on the other hand, works by containing a barely subcritical fissile mass in the center of a spheroid made of polished metal reflectors that turn the radiation back into the material itself. A geometrical, precisely timed, explosive charge on the outside of the sphere drives it inward making the fissile material produce a chain reaction. Back in the nine­teenth century it was erroneously thought that green­houses kept warm by containing the heat radiation by the glass barrier that kept reflecting back the infrared radiation until it built up enough strength to get out. Of course, now we realize that was a bunch of hooey. The sealed enclosure keeps the heat in by preventing its escape through convection.

Unfortunately, climate "scientists" using the nineteenth century greenhouse model have been telling us that the manmade increase of the trace gas (200 parts per million or so) carbon dioxide is reflecting back heat that will melt the glaciers and raise the sea level. In actuality space is an insulator that prevents the atmospheric heat from escaping by conduction, the Earth's gravity prevents it escaping through convection, and the thin carbon dioxide content has not enough density to store any significant amount of heat, let alone reflect it back, which doesn't happen from a colder body to a warmer in the first place. What it did store would only be reradiated in all directions outward just as with the lead Pu-239 container on Mars. In this movie Mark has monitoring for all the constituent gases in his HAB atmos­phere, and he has the (mostly unwanted) advice from every scientist on Earth about running his green­house. None of them use the nine­teenth century model. What NASA does do, how­ever, is court disaster by skipping the tests in order to save time before launching the Iris probe. Nowa­days, every­one is in such a hurry to prevent the sky from falling, to prevent the CO2 layer pictured up there from thickening—actually its spread out and thickest near the ground—that they are prepping for an Earth-warming disaster. After the next ice age has hit, due about 2040 according to sunspot data, the near future scienists in this movie seem to have learned the hard way about the myth of man-made global warming caused by green­house gases.

Production Values

This movie “” was directed by Sci-Fi maven Ridley Scott. It's based on Andy Weir's best-selling novel, The Martian. Drew Goddard wrote the screen­play. It stars Matt Damon appearing alone in a lot of scenes. Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sean Bean also pop up through­out the film. Damon excels as the lone but chipper character left abandoned. He does solid work acting on-screen by him­self. Cast members Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Peña are in good form, too. Kristen Wiig is wasted in a minor role. Mackenzie Davis as Mindy Park in communi­cations was great when picking up Mars signals.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for some strong residual language from the book, icky injury images, and fleeting rear nudity. The visuals are striking of a dry land­scape filmed in Jordan as well as of sound stage sets in Hungary. Almost every­thing looked real and was done with practic­ality. The resulting cinema­tog­raphy is breath­taking when portraying the vast Martian land­scapes. The sets, props, and CGI were quite captivating, as well. The sound was marvelous, the disco music was grating (but mercifully brief), and the one romantic interlude went by in a flash. Wry humor abounded.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I found “The Martian” a total delight. It illustrated practical science and was a rousing adventure story. We had a chipper cast­away, a female commander, some helpful Chinese, an embar­rassed NASA, and not too much mushy stuff—the kiss was planted on a visor. This makes for an enjoy­able movie all round.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture cited was from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Two Towers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1988. Print.