A personal messay on Interstellar & The Martian.

A messay is a fusion between an essay and a meme. As South Park teaches us, essays are usually for  your ese’s but a mEssay; well a messay allows one to express their individuality creatively, like Messi.

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Since I watched The Martian, I been verbally spewing around me on how the film compares to Interstellar. The similarities and the differences. Now that both The Martian & Interstellar are out on blu-ray. It seems fair to personally compare the two films.

While some may sense a certain bias towards one of the two films I discuss, I boldly claim that I have been as fair as my moral compass allows. Determined! To present my interpretations with a fairness akin to a Marxist doctrine. Not quite like Karl Marx’s manifesto per se, but rather, a collective mixture of the three archetypal personalities of the Marx Brothers; Groucho, Chico and Harpo in particular.

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Aliens

I’m watching The Martian and the beginning is hooking me in. Right around when Matt Damon is dramatically left stranded and abandoned on Mars. Assumed dead by his team. Shortly, we discover that he is alive, and the film descends into a survivalist Tom Hanks Cast Away in Mars type scenario. Needless to say, the following events of the film gradually lost my piqued interest.

Interstellar, interestingly, has a character befalling the same faith as The Martian. But, instead of Mars, dude is abandoned on a planet resembling water world.

vlcsnap-2016-05-19-21h50m03s223.png(Low-key hoping for Christopher Nolan’s: Aquaman).

Thing is, I walked into both films with an expectation to see some aliens or something sci-fi-ish. I walked away from Interstellar with an obsessive curiosity for synchronicity, consciousness, love as a ‘fact’ and parapsychology.

Whereas, I walked away from The Martian fretting the idea of eating potatoes and listening to disco music for the rest of my life.

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The Martian began promisingly. The early suspense confirmed my anticipation of Matt Damon channelling  Jason Bourne to mess up some effin aliens! But, not even a hint of extraterrestrials throughout the film… Naively, my expectations were built on director Ridley Scott who directed sci-fi classic Alien (1979), a film considered by Roger Ebert to be ‘one of the most influential action films of the modern era’.

So halfway through The Martian when I found the film dry in the action department but raining in the nerd department, I realised I got bamboozled by the marketing materials of both films and in the case of The Martian, I should of looked up the book before venturing into the cinema.

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Interstellar’s narrative on the other hand, teased the audience throughout the film with aliens. Aliens may even be benevolent beings; Contrary, to the violent imagery popularised  by H.G Wells or franchises like the Predator & Alien films. The alien antagonist stereotype been prevailing in storytelling for a while. Extraterrestrials, immigrants, etc… 

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Interstellar is set in the not so distant dystopian future where humanity is destined to doom. Earth’s habitable environment, little by little deteriorating, oxygen steadily turning into dust and food crops perishing. Feminism en-route to overthrow Patriarchy, it’s all very grim.

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Children for the most part in Interstellar’s plot are only allowed to study farming . As luxury subjects like liberal arts won’t be saving the human race. So ex NASA pilot turned farmer, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) looks to farming to provide for his family. The funny coincidence is Matt Damon farmed shit on Mars like the whole film. Literally, with his own shit.

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The alluded aliens in Interstellar are suggested from the get-go. Matt McCon, told straight up *Michael Caine voice* ‘”they” placed a wormhole for us to travel through’. ‘Alright, alright al… wait

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Interstellar’s elaborate Science took the audience further. Ghosts were thrown into the mix. “Who you gon call”?

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Interstellar’s speculations on ‘ghosts’ and aliens are suggested from the ethos of NASA, disarming any kind of dawkinite thinking while adding an authoritative edge to the narrative. Seriously if NASA drops a press con tmr saying ‘Sorry folks, ghosts actually exist and aliens from planet Nibiru about to touch down this December’… What would we collectively do?

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Now, with the low down on Interstellar. The Martian is basically a dramatised documentary film. A Mars edition of Man vs Wild crossover with BBC botany, with special guest narrator, Good Will Hunting.

‘The Martian’ is based on a best-selling novel. If you have not read the book like I haven’t, I should warn you that I got duped into thinking The Martian would be a film where Matt Damon wards off a Martian race of vicious acid blooded aliens, something Sigourney Weaver had to deal with in 79. But, there’s no Martians in this flick titled  ‘The Martian’. There is a dude named Watney (Matt Damon) who claims to be a Martian (slash pirate slash botanist) but if you expecting to see some space action, you won’t find much here.

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Humour.

My sense of humour as it ages gets darker, sarcastic, but not nonsensical (yet?). On the other hand, something meant to be obviously funny I find obviously annoying. I myself am quite annoying, hahahaha. where r u going??

For a stress inducing survival film like The Martian, the jokes did lightened the mood. Like a lecturer telling jokes in between power-point slides on Mikhael Baktain and The Grotesque. The jokes supplied breaks from Watney’s dire situation. One joke in particular was rather annoying. A joke butting on Melissa Lewis’s (Jessica Chastain) taste in music (disco jams), which irritates The F! Outta Watney (Matt Damon) who is stuck on Mars with her mixtape on repeat. Joke feels repetitive almost immediately. It’s like you lucky you have anything in Mars! Joke already got annoying the second time Matt Damon glared sarcastically into the camera (while Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff was playing)

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We get it, you vape… I mean, you don’t like disco music…

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Another staged laugh stage to me was when Chinese NASA appeared. Choruses of laughter coursed through the cinema when Chinese NASA appeared on screen. Perhaps because I watched The Martian in Hong Kong? I remember chuckling just at the sheer reaction to Chinese NASA! I don’t know if watching The Martian say, in Moscow? Would of evoked such a reaction?

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Interstellar in comparison, did not have many que to laughter moments, the tone of the film was  seriously set from the beginning. The humour lightened the mood naturally. The humour was present in a subtler form. The idea that an A.I. that can exchange witticisms with Matthew McConaughey is pretty damn funny. 

I say in a generalised nutshell, the humour is subtler in interstellar whereas The Martian, it’s good old American in your face humour.

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Science.

I scoffed my scone when I read a pattern of critics pontificating interstellar too ‘sciencey’ to understand. Really? how is a film that has aliens and ghosts in the plot be deemed ‘too sciencey’ is beyond me. In the age of reality television and scientism dominated discourses, it is daring storytelling sure, but, not sciency. Interstellar took a chance with 5th dimensional beings, ghosts and possible aliens! The Martian, slammed all the Narnia doors shut, sealed it with cling film & nerd-shamed anyone who didn’t follow the casual science-dropping.

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Personally, the breakdown of science in interstellar is far easier comprehended than The Martian. The explanation of relativity was straightforward as can be. For example, Interstellar’s science tells you straight up, 1 hour in water world equals 7 years back on earth. A wormhole lets you travel beyond dimensions of space & time. Time is bendable, stretchable but it can’t go backwards; unless, maybe, you a 5th dimensional being but no one knows what that is.

The Martian talks to you like you should already know how to make water from condensation and a breast pump. Or which radioactive rocks keep you warm on a cold chilly night, or how easy it is to use cling film to repair whole space habitats.

Despite the science in Interstellar being explained by their on-screen characters, film critics pontificated Interstellar too hard to follow, because of its science…

Prepare to zone out like you in kindergarten class for The Martian folks, because, unless you internalised all your sciences at an elementary age, none of the casual science dropping will make sense to you.  Sure, The Martian is much more ‘scientifically realistic’ than Interstellar. But, a very realistic film does not make an entertaining film. (Just how many folks watch Big Brother on the live 24 hour stream?)

Would you believe The Martian received a Golden Globe for best Comedy? Look it up. I can’t even make that up. One of the reasons I was prompted to write this comparison.

On a side note, in the Martian, Matt Damon survives on potatoes. In interstellar, he looks like a potato. What kind of conspiracy is this?

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Courage.

Hands down!  The Interstellar crew is ballsier of the two crews. Even though, the two contexts of the films are completely different and should somewhat dictate character motivations. But, if I had to chose a squad for a Hunger Games type tournament I would choose the Interstellar squad, every time.

In Interstellar, the crew is the last gasp of hope for humanity, if they fail; humanity goes extinct. The Martiancrew are on a safety first basis to collect data from Mars…

With the two contexts of the film side by side. It still jumps at you to question the courageousness of the The Martians crew lead by Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). She straight up abandons Matt Damon, after displaying some poor leadership skills in the opening scenes of the film. Upon discovering Watney’s survival on Mars, she reasons to follow protocol and NOT head back to save private Ryan. Reasoning that Matt Damon a space florist anyways, not like he’s crucial to the team. It ain’t part of protocol, safety first and we been ordered to go back to earth first…

Cooper in Interstellar, chased an exploding mother-ship (The Endurance) with the aim of impossibly docking the smaller spaceship (The Ranger) to perhaps stabilise the Endurance. Battling G-Forces that could knock Cooper out and with the pressure of humanities survival on the shoulders of him and Anne Hathaway, in a galaxy far far away, thanks to the incompetence of Dr.Mann (Matt Damon).

Feminism overthrows Patriarchy in Interstellar; the theme plays throughout the film. It seems if  Matt Damon and Michael Caine’s character personify traditional patriarchy. Jess Chastain’s brand of Feminism along with Dr.Brand (Anne Hathaway) is what really ensures the survival of the human race in the film.  

The Martian’s characters can be excused with the fact that their context was no where near as intense as Interstellar. Bravery would logically be exchanged for prudence, which of course would be safe and wise; but, it will also be very Boring. The most daring act in The Martian was skipping a safety procedure on an un-manned space craft, bruh. 

Besides the docking scene, Interstellar’s Murph (Jess Chastain) burns down seemingly the last crop of food available to mankind in a gamble,to get inside her childhood bedroom to perhaps communicate with a ghost… a Fucking ghost b! (And folks called Interstellar too sciencey!) To figure out how she can solve the equation of gravity and save the folks on earth.

The unwillingness to act outside of procedure in the Martian, gets boring and rather frustrating if you are an action/suspense film enthusiast.

Music!

Let’s be honest. Hans Zimmer slaughtered this ish. He bodied the soundtrack. He literally suffocated then resurrected the sounds-waves heard in Interstellar. When I found out the organ used for Interstellar’s main theme was in fact blessed and holy in itself  (The Church Organ of Temple church, Central London), it blew my mind!

Nolan himself said:

“They [Zimmer & his team] really wanted the church organ and I also made a case, very strongly for some feeling of religiosity even if the film isn’t religious… they [The organ & architecture of the church] represent mankind’s attempt to portray the mystical and the metaphysical of what’s beyond us”.

When I discovered the instrument used for the main theme in Interstellar was a magnificent Church organ, it was not surprising to realise that the music evoked such transcending responses. The music is without a doubt one of the main drivers of the film along with captivating visuals and of course superb acting. Without Hans Zimmer slaying the ish out of the soundtrack though, the film could of been a lot less memorable.

What’s the music in the Martian??


TL;DR

Interstellar is better la

 

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