It seems that the fear of being trapped amongst the stars is becoming an annual theme in big budget flicks. In 2013, there was director Alfonso Cuaron’s claustrophobic Gravity, which starred Sandra Bullock as a doctor fighting for her life as she aimlessly drifts through space. Last year’s Interstellar allowed director Christopher Nolan to launch Matthew McConaughey into a black hole in order to solve Earth’s dwindling crop problem. And now, there’s director Ridley Scott’s The Martian.
Based on the Andy Weir novel of the same name, the intergalactic drama is a definite crowd-pleaser (go see it, now!) that tells the story of botanist Mark Watney, who gets left for dead on the Red Planet after their mission is cut short by a storm. Stuck in space, he must do everything in his power to survive until NASA sends a team to rescue him.
Despite being three standalone movies, audiences couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the three films. They all deal with survival in space and some of them even shared the same actors. All three had hard science involved and could be complicated to understand at times. So in order to make things less science-y (and more fun), we decided to pit them against each other based on some of their important elements to see who comes out on top!
1) THE PLOT
Gravity: A doctor gets separated from her space crew after a freak accident. Inexperienced, she must find a way to survive and find her way back to Earth.
Interstellar: A global food crisis threatens mankind. In order to avoid possible extinction, a team of experts must navigate their way through a black hole to cultivate a new planet.
The Martian: After being left for dead by his team, a botanist must use his scientific wits (and a shitload of potatoes) to prolong his life on Mars.
THE FINAL VERDICT: All stories deal with survival and the triumph of the human spirit, but the comedic slant of The Martian gives it a mass appeal the other two lack. POINT: The Martian
2) THE HERO
Gravity: Biomedical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock), who outlasted even George Clooney.
Interstellar: Cooper, a former pilot turned NASA astronaut and engineer with a penchant for drama (played by Matthew McConaughey).
The Martian: Botanist Mark Watney, who gets by with the help of some disco music and ingenuity (played by Matt Damon).
THE FINAL VERDICT: Just because he’s a super-intelligent florist in space, we have to give it to Damon’s innovative Mark Watney! POINT: The Martian
3) THE CG AND TECHNOLOGY
Gravity: The filmmakers had to invent new technology that would allow them to shoot the main star as if she were in a zero-g setting.
Interstellar: Astrophysicists and visual effects experts collaborated to generate the realistic and mind-bending wormholes seen in the movie. The result: a feast for the senses!
The Martian: Although the CG in the film is seamless,The Martian is hinged more on the story rather than the special effects.
THE FINAL VERDICT: If you’ve seen Interstellar, which had the coolest scenes shot in IMAX 70mm film, your jaw was probably on the floor in astonishment. POINT: Interstellar
4) THE SCIENCE
Gravity: There are a lot of scientific inconsistencies, but the one that calls attention the most is how when Dr. Stone disrobes (oh yeah), she’s only wearing tight sexy panties and a tank top inside her suit. Astronauts actually layer like a mofo and even wear space diapers!
Interstellar: California Institute of Technology physicist Kip Thorne, who served as the science advisor for Interstellar actually wrote a book, entitled The Science of Interstellar, which chronicles the process of research that went into preproduction.
The Martian: The amazing thing in the script is that every character is adept with their job and its processes. For example: Mindy Park (played by Mackenzie Davis) of Mission Control immediately reports changes she observes on the surface of the Red Planet. And Mark Watney, being a stellar botanist, actually digs through the crew's poop to use it as fertilizer for his crops. The astrophysics involved with having to save the titular Martian, which is sort of like scooping the character up mid-travel as he floats through space, according to geek website i09, is very much sound.
THE FINAL VERDICT: For the effective use of science not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for the ingenious climax of the film, this has to go to The Martian.
5) THE OVERALL FEELING YOU GET AFTER YOU WATCHING
Gravity: “Holy f*ck! I hope I never get left alone floating in space. And damn, out of her spacesuit, Sandra Bullock is still pretty hot!” Hide your geek-boner, son.
Interstellar: Like most Nolan movies, you’ll have your mouth gaping as you ask, “WTF just happened?”
The Martian: There’s a collective sigh of relief that you’re actually watching a Ridley Scott movie that doesn’t suck as you scream “Whoohoo! The human race rules!”
THE FINAL VERDICT: Weren’t you paying attention? Sandra B looking pretty fit as an astrobabe is enough to launch your rocket! POINT: Gravity
THE FINAL, FINAL VERDICT:
The Martian - 3
Gravity - 1
Interstellar - 1
Not only does the movie boast an outstanding cast of today’s best actors, it’s also a heartwarming, funny, and suspenseful watch that no one should miss.
WINNER: The Martian