To Mars and between


“Hurricane Joaquin is an active tropical cyclone currently impacting the Bahamas. It is the tenth named storm, third hurricane and second major hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. Originating from a non-tropical low, Joaquin was first classified a tropical depression on September 28, well southwest of Bermuda. With strong wind shear aloft, the depression initially struggled to strengthen while moving slowly southwest. After becoming a tropical storm the next day, Joaquin underwent a phase of rapid intensification over warm sea temperatures with abating shear, reaching hurricane status on September 30. Early on October 1, Joaquin attained major hurricane status and peaked as a Category 4 storm. It is the most intense Atlantic tropical cyclone since Hurricane Igor of 2010.”

I just hope Hurricane Joaquin doesn’t hit the east coast of the US over the weekend. I don’t want it affecting Matt Damon’s box office returns. The Martian needs all the help it can get to overhaul the opening of Gravity, which is the high mark. Gravity had IMAX screens, a shorter run time, the star power of Sandra Bullock, and the overall virtue of being a better film in its favor. The Martian isn’t one continuous thrilling sequence in space. It runs almost an hour longer which means fewer shows per day, and spends a whole lot more time on terra firma – a distinctly less thrilling aspect compared to being unmoored in nothingness. (Gravity also had a better soundtrack).

A genie once offered me a menu of superpowers and asked me to pick any of them. I asked for one that wasn’t on the menu, I asked for the power to be able to influence box office returns, the power to manipulate American movie going audience as per my whim. I am still waiting.

A different genie asked me on another occasion to ask for anything. I said I wanted a movie with Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. It said, “You’re such a fanboy, and you really don’t know how to use these wishes.”

I actually gave up on Andy Weir’s book the first time I picked it up. Then news came out that Matt Damon was cast as Mark Watney. News also came out that Ridley Scott was going to direct it. I was horrified, his latest film at the time was The Counselor and that movie gives you a 140 million reasons to be horrified about the prospect of Ridley Scott. It was then revealed that Drew Godard was going to adapt the book and my anxiety eased a bit.  I went back to the book with renewed grit and developed a thing for the character Beth Johanssen mistakenly assuming it would be played by Mackenzie Davis. I also felt I’d definitely cry if I saw the world rally together to save Matt Damon.

But alas, the movie couldn’t bring it. I think of it as a missed opportunity- to make me cry. Interstellar came much closer, with the scene where McConaughey breaks down on viewing video logs from home.

Coming to the cast, JC -one of McConaughey’s children- wasn’t given much to do. She gets to float gracefully around in her ship a couple of times but that’s it. Was delighted to see Chiwetel Ejiofor get the ‘and’ billing in the credits. If they want a black James Bond, I’d much rather see it go to Chiwetel than Idris Elba. I also ironically wanted more of Matt Damon, I wasn’t satisfied with his screen time.

And coming to Ridley, I wish he had more fun splicing together the three parallel tracks. He gives us a few glimpses but ultimately errs on the side of the conservative.

Early Friday estimates put The Martian opening to about $52M, provided the hurricane stays away. Gravity opened to $55M. Pray for the gap to be bridged. Pray to Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.

Also, the general reaction to the movie has been far more positive than mine. Guess I should give it another go. I am coming for you, Matt Damon. I am coming for you with as much determination as Commander Lewis. Stay put. Stay you.


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