This past weekend, The Martian debuted in theaters to much fanfare, and the Cliff’s Notes version of this is: it’s not undeserved. The film adaptation of Andy Weir’s runaway bestselling novel tells the harrowing tale of one man’s endurance, ingenuity and determination to survive as a lone astronaut accidentally left for dead on the surface of Mars. With limited food and supplies and no way to reach Earth, astronaut Mark Watney must make equipment meant to last only 30 days keep him alive for over a year until the next crew can reach him, using only his wits. It’s a tale of survival against impossible odds, like Apollo 13— or, for that matter, the Firefly episode “Out of Gas.” Coincidentally, one of the NASA managers tasked with coordinating the interplanetary rescue effort is played by Chewitel Ejiofor, better known to fans of Serenity as The Operative.
Here’s the rare instance where you’d actually WANT that “warship in deep orbit”…
The film itself has been pretty well hyped by 21st-Century FOX and eagerly awaited by the novel’s many fans. The good news is, it essentially lived up to said hype. Being an avid reader myself, comparisons to the book are inevitable. In this case, though, we have one of the rare instances where a film adaptation may not necessarily improve on its source material, but does an excellent job of bringing it to life and telling it in a way that novels often can’t.
Leonard Nimoy (center, as if you needed to be told) with Gene Roddenberry and the rest of the cast of Star Trek at the unveiling of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. (NASA photo)
If you’re a fan of science-fiction, or one who passionately believes that mankind should continue striving to boldly go into the black, then I’m sure that like me, you’re saddened by the passing of Leonard Nimoy this weekend. Unlike so many in his profession, Nimoy never became a parody of himself. He remained relevant throughout his long career– from his early days of guest appearances on shows like The Twilight Zone to his final portrayal of the character that made him a pop culture legend.
The first time I ever walked the floor of a science-fiction and comics convention in costume (at the old Pittsburgh Comicon back in sixth grade), it was as Mr. Spock. As a kid I loved watching Star Trek re-runs, and I identified with Spock more than any other character. Sure, as the Science Officer he got to play with all the cool gadgets, and the ears were kind of neat, but I think it was because every young kid can relate to feeling like they’re different from all the other people around them and having to struggle to fit in, much like Spock did as a half-Vulcan living and working among humans. I don’t think any member of Enterprise’s crew was as complex as Spock, and in Leonard Nimoy, Gene Roddenberry found the perfect actor to show us that.