The Martian, which rocketed to number one on opening day, has grossed $55 million. Ridley Scott, the director of this space flick, has highlighted the profession of a botanist lost on Mars in the movie. Hey, isn’t this movie about an astronaut?
Matt Damon who plays the character of Mark Watney is an astronaut, but it’s his knowledge of plants that help him survive his ordeal on Mars. As soon as he spots a wild seedling, his survival instincts kick in. He switches careers, going from an astronaut to a botanist. If you were hoping to see Matt Damon whip out high-tech space gadgets and fight aliens, the movie will be a letdown.
All you will see in the movie is his character plants seeds and grows potatoes, lots and lots of potatoes. So, why did he only fill up Mars with potatoes? The aliens, if they exist, will not be pleased with Watney’s skills as a botanist. You would think he would have bought seeds of Tuscan kale, haricots verts, and nutty arugula with him—not such a great botanist after all.
Come on; don’t be so hard on Watney, as potatoes were the only vegetables stored in the cupboard. Imagine if he had eaten all the stored potatoes, he would have died hungry. Come to think of it, that would have made for one interesting movie. Mark Watney, the lost and very hungry astronaut, but does he find his way back home?
In order to make life challenging on Mars for Watney, he has to assemble a greenhouse of plastic sheeting, fill the floor with dirt from Mars, and cut his fully-grown potatoes. This will either get a yawn out of you or have you jumping in your seat, anticipating what is to come next.
The second hardship our lost astronaut/botanist faces is figuring out how his potatoes will get light, water, and nutrients, and then waiting for his harvest to grow. Don’t worry, as he had plenty of packaged astronaut food to keep him alive and his tummy full.
Unlike on earth, he doesn’t have to keep a watchful eye for diseases, fleas, or beetles. To us, this seemed like another missed opportunity to introduce aliens who would destroy his crops and reduce his chances for survival (or impose a hefty agriculture tax which makes it impossible for him to survive in Mars’ economy). Perhaps, we just really want to see aliens in a space movie and seeing all those plants made our mind wander to how this movie could have been more exciting. Realistically speaking though, this movie was spot on, as NASA recently discovered water on Mars.
We wonder when they will start making bookings to buy plots on the red planet. In fact, astronauts have already begun to grow vegetables by growing the seeds in an enclosed pillow to keep water, nutrients, and soil in place. They didn’t eat the batch, as they needed to ensure it didn’t contain any disgusting microbes.
If Watney sent his batch down to earth, the tests would discover the fecal matter of his colleagues at the space station. Even though him eating his prized potatoes may make you gag, (spoiler alert), it helped him survive the painful and lonely ordeal.