Tagged: The Martian

Molly Jackson is a Purist


I really wanted to do something this week about Passover and all the Jewish comic creators. Maybe one day I will, but I saw a movie and now I have it stuck in a loop in my mind. Last weekend on my flight back from the west coast, I finally got the chance to see The Martian. Yes, I know it has been out for a very long time but I fell behind in my movie watching. However, I loved the book, and its science based story points. But the movie irked me, but only because I read the book first.

As for the scenes I wanted to see (at least 15% of the book is missing from the movie), I won’t share the details for fear of spoiling someone. Mostly, I was curious how they would visualize one scene or another. I have fallen in this trap many times before.  Every time I read a book or comic, I build up the world in my mind.

The biggest problem with seeing a book turned movie is that I want to see the picture in my mind up on the screen. I want the director to love the same scenes as me and go out of their way to make them happen.  Written media turned into movies always triggers the perfectionist in me. It’s not fair to the studios, really. Part of me understands that some characters get left out because of budget or time constraints. I understand cutting some characters or changes plot points for better visual storytelling.

What I have to admit is that I am a purist for the original source material. For me, growing up with the written word was everything to me. I would be willing to sit in the theaters to watch a six-hour movie that really encompasses the entire story. I get it, I’m weird.

Comics have less occurrences of this issue only because so many characters have been rebooted multiple times. I admit I still find myself hating adaptations if I know the story it is based on.  This will be tested with Captain America: Civil War coming out in about a week. We all know the story has changed significantly, including the driving force behind the actual war. It will also be missing a few hundred characters. Soon, the internet will be overflowing with tons of complaints. I understand where they will be coming from, even if I won’t agree with them.

For the record, once I got past my own nitpicking, The Martian is a very well done film. You should watch it if you get a chance. As for the next time you read a book about to be made into a film, don’t get your hopes up. Just try to enjoy the moment.

Dennis O’Neil: What Is Science-Fiction?

Hannes Bok

We saw a science-fiction movie a few days ago. And you shrug: so what? Is there a multiplex in the land of the free that isn’t showing science-fiction? Especially if you count superheroes as SF?

There are a couple of answers to that question. Let us discuss.

When SF first began to creep onto the nation’s newsstands, and much less frequently into its bookstores, it was pretty easy to identify. It dealt with science, technology, distant worlds, extraterrestrials and, with few exceptions, the future. The heroes tended to be stalwart, competent, practical. Scientists, or maybe military guys. The odd engineer or two. The women were…there. Plots turned on the kind of stuff stalwart, competent and practical gentlemen might find themselves involved in. Endings were generally optimistic. (We might encounter evil aliens out there between the stars, we noble humans, and they might give us a lot of grief, but in the end we kicked their ass, or whatever passed for an ass on tentacled monsters.) Fine prose was not much of a concern. Plot and plain vanilla storytelling – those were foremost. The literati scoffed. If it’s good, the canard went, it isn’t science-fiction.

Then came the changes, as young and very smart writers who valued literary niceties and had spent some time in science classes began to explore the genre. They experimented and expanded SF’s parameters, but one rule of their predecessors remained pretty much inviolate: Writers weren’t allowed to contradict was known about the real world. They could extrapolate and, in effect, guess about where new technologies and scientific discoveries would take us, but they couldn’t just make this kind of stuff up.

By this criterion there hasn’t been much so-called “hard science-fiction” on screens for years. (We might rationalize the mini-miracles in, say, Star Wars, and your correspondent might not be above such activity, but explanations aren’t included in the script.)

As for comic books… the editor-god of the field, Stan Lee, once told me that readers will believe what we give them because we give it to them. In other words, they want to be entertained, not educated. No harm in that.

But twice recently, as a matter of fact, I have experienced hard SF in my local multiplex. Last year there was Gravity and though some eminent scientists complained that plot events couldn’t have happened as they were depicted, by and large the movie stuck to what is. Great flick, too. And that SF movie we saw a few days ago: It’s called The Martian and like Gravity it begins with a scientific blooper, one that the film makers were apparently aware of from the git-go and were willing to ignore for the sake of storytelling. Like Gravity, The Martian delivers plenty of entertainment while sticking pretty closely to those pesky facts.

I doubt that anyone would refuse to call The Martian science-fiction, despite the relative lack of glitz and spectacle. So yes: it’s SF.

All those other movies, the superheroes and all that play fast and loose with those facts?. Are they not SF? Maybe that should wait till next week.

John Ostrander’s Big Coming Attractions


Having written last week about the movies I saw this last summer and really enjoyed, I might as well this week talk about what’s coming up in the movie theaters between now and the end of the year. Which ones look interesting and which ones I’m really looking forward to.

The latter is the easiest to identify – Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens – and the next entry in the James Bond saga, Spectre.

Star Wars is a gimme. I’ve been a Star Wars fans for a loooooong time and I labored in George Lucas’s vineyard for about ten years, doing a passel of comics. Yes, those are now in the process of being taken out of continuity but, OTOH, they were never A Canon, which meant Lucas could disregard them at any moment.

The Force Awakens is going to do what I really wanted after Episode VI came out – it’s going to tell me what happened next. When I really like a story, that’s always what I want – what happened next. GL decided to go back and do a prequel about how we got to the start of Star Wars. Okay, that’s what interested him but not me so much.

Oh, and he dicked around with the whole “Did Han shoot first?” question. It was never a question until Lucas dicked around with it: Han shot first. Why he needed to dick around with that, I don’t know. His first answer was the correct one. However, I’m wandering off topic.

How interested I will continue to be with the Star Wars franchise will depend on this next movie, but there is no question I’m going to see Episode VII.

The other big film in the fall season is the next James Bond movie, Spectre. I’ve become a big fan of Daniel Craig as Bond; in fact, I will go so far as to speak heresy and say he is now my favorite Bond. (I hereby apologize to my buddy, Kevin Hatch, but there it is.) The last Bond film, Skyfall, cemented that for me. The director on that, Sam Mendes, is back with Craig for Spectre which evokes the organization that was Bond’s usual Big Bad. This might be Craig’s last outing as Bond and, if so, will make it all bittersweet but also something I absolutely must see.

There are other films that have attracted my attention for one reason or another. None of them are anticipated with quite the same fervor for me of the Star Wars and the Bond entries but they have caught my eye. The ads for The Intern look interesting. Anne Hathaway with Robert De Niro as a widower/retiree who becomes her intern on her company. The two seem to play together well and it looks entertaining.

Black Mass looks as if Johnny Depp has remembered he can act instead of just messing around and that interests me. The Martian has Ridley Scott doing sci/fi again with Matt Damon as his lead. That’s a combination I find attractive. Likewise, Bridge Of Spies has Steven Spielberg directing Tom Hanks in a spy story. I could go for that.

Carol, with Todd Haynes directing Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mare, in a 1950s piece by Patricia Highsmith about a lesbian romance. Doesn’t sound like my usual cup of tea but the combination of story and artists makes it intriguing. I wish I could say I was chomping at the bit to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 but I haven’t seen Part 1 yet so it’s not high on my must-see list. Trumbo, on the other hand, is about the famed screenwriter blacklisted in the 50s for (allegedly) being a Communist sympathizer and that one I do want to see. There’s also a version of Frankenstein coming out with James McEvoy and Daniel Radcliffe that seems to be calling to me. Maybe. I want to see some reviews first.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are doing Sisters and the title and those two actresses are enough to catch my attention. Oliver Stone is directing Jason Gordon-Levitt in Snowden, the story of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Could be interesting.

And that brings us to the end of the year and the dawn of 2016 and the film I really want to see next year is, of course, Suicide Squad. However, I’ll try not to get ahead of myself.

There may be other films that I discover as we go along. Some I won’t need to see on the big screen; some will work just as well on my TV. Some will be disappointments, some will be surprises. And your list may vary.

In the meantime, I’m popping the popcorn.