Quote of the Day
If you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less.
— General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. Change is inevitable, and we need to learn to embrace it.
I just watched the movie The Martian with my oldest son, and I really enjoyed it (Figure 1). As I thought about the movie, it certainly was the best of the "man versus Mars" movies I have seen – and it was the first with a real sense of humor. Every so often, Hollywood rediscovers the "escape from Mars" theme and The Martian is the best of this genre yet.
As a boy in 1964, I loved seeing the movie Robinson Crusoe on Mars (RCOM, Figure 2). Both The Martian and RCOM are about a isolated individual trying to survive on Mars until he can be rescued. I consider RCOM to be the last of the 1950s-style science fiction films. Its director was Byron Haskins, who directed the science fiction classic War of the Worlds and would later direct the first Star Trek pilot called "The Cage". I consider "The Cage" to be one of the best science fiction episodes ever produced for television. Unfortunately, Haskins also directed the stinker Conquest of Space. Even the best directors have a few clinkers – remember that George Lucas produced Howard the Duck.
In 2000, Hollywood gave us a pair of movies about rescuing astronauts stranded on Mars: Mission to Mars (Figure 3), which has a plot similar to that of The Martian; Red Planet (Figure 4), a rather messy affair about astronauts trying to escape Mars while being attacked by a wacko robot. Between these two movies, I would take Mission to Mars any day. The characters in Red Planet seem way too macho for a team of techie astronauts.