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How Realistic Is The Matt Damon-Ridley Scott Scifi Thriller ‘The Martian?’

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The Martian movie poster movie spoon

For Real?

For Real?

The Martian opens on 10/2/15

Would I be a killjoy if I said, “Huh?” in response to all the online and print media discussions on how realistic and how scientific the upcoming Ridley Scott film The Martian is going to be?

An L.A. Times headline this week sums up the taken-in camp’s absurd position on the subject. It reads, “Why NASA scientists are excited about [the] Matt Damon Film” The Martian.

The article, written by Paresh Dave, explains that author Andy Weir “spent countless hours digging through Google to perfect technical details in what became a popular 2012 e-book about an astronaut stranded on Mars.”

After that, let’s take a look at director Ridley Scott’s scientific background, which includes, as we all know, a terrifically tense horror film, Alien (1979) in which we learn that aliens start out as embryonic leeches before they punch their way to freedom through a host’s chest cavity and that bioengineered replicants (in the film Blade Runner) know how to exploit loopholes in our immigration system. Of course, you don’t have to be a bioengineered replicant to do that, but, apparently, it doesn’t hurt, either.

So, we have an author with a Masters in Science from Google U. and a director who is actually a master of theatrical detail, including technological detail (or at least it sounds pretty cool). What do we do with that?

It turns out at least one real scientist at NASA is happy to know that someone in the arts is taking this Martian vacation idea seriously, because NASA is planning a trip to the red planet in about 2030 or so. So, maybe this movie will whip up some necessary enthusiasm (because going to Mars will certainly require a group effort.) It would be nice, for example, if the astronauts who make the first trip to Mars had some quality restaurants to go to when they finally get there. Maybe far-reaching Elon Musk will see the commercial potential of a crew of astronauts who like duty free shopping the same as the rest of us. A little gift shop would be nice. Pizza, definitely.


But Hollywood, in all seriousness, can do advanced marketing for scientific endeavors and there is nothing wrong with whetting the American appetite for pioneering and discovery by having Matt Damon lead the way. (The release date for the movie is October 2.) NASA director of planetary science Jim Green apparently told the Times that the movie is true to the “science, technology and human cooperation necessary ‘to overcome major challenges’ in space.”

And isn’t that the core purpose of science fiction–: To show human beings maintaining their sense of humanity under what would be, in simple terms, impossible situations? A home cooked meal on Mars with garden-raised veggies would be one of those impossible situations and Matt Damon is just the far flung master chef to pull it off.

But, really, folks, Hollywood and Houston just are not the same town. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a symbiotic relationship. NASA provides Hollywood with great plots from time to time and Hollywood reciprocates by planting seeds and growing dreams. That works for me. And, Mr. Damon, as you try out your first alien-noodle soup: May the force be with you.

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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