Author Topic: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review  (Read 43527 times)

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Offline Fungus

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #100 on: November 07, 2015, 11:49:46 pm »
A bit late to the part I know but I just saw it yesterday...

Disclaimer: Yes, I read the book about six months ago (right after it was mentioned on XKCD).

The movie? Yes, it's dumbed down. I was a bit disappointed that that they couldn't even manage 5 minutes of real tech stuff in such a long movie. I'm sure they could have had a 30-second scene with him experimenting with the solar panels, calculating consumption, recharge time, how many panels he'd need, stuff like that. Three or four real tech scenes would have made all the difference IMHO.

The only real disappointment was the scene where the airlock blew up. That was way over-simplified. Also the plasic bag he put over the hole with duct tape  :palm:

To be fair, that's the only real head facepalm in the movie, thast and the silly "Iron-man" ending. It's nothing compared to the never-ending facepalms in (eg.) "Gravity" (which everybody told me was incredibly scientific and realistic, LOL!).

But complaining is easy, on the whole i'll give it a  :-+ Don't miss it if you're a nerd.
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #101 on: November 08, 2015, 03:31:17 am »

Because over and over and over The Martian has been reviewed and presented as such by the author as some type of extensively researched blueprint for getting to Mars.

That hasn't been my impression at all. In every interview of the author I've seen (including the linked video above) he has talked about the inaccuracies.

I think you're mixing up the praise it has gotten for having extensive science and engineering based content (especially the book) with some false idea that it has been presented as 100% scientifically accurate and plausible.  There's a reason it's called science fiction.

I read the first thirty odd pages of the book and the "science and engineering based content" is pretty wanting there as well.  So wanting, that the numerous examples of bad science are being used in the curriculum at a local university.

I LOVE science FICTION. But I keep hearing this book and movie are so fantastic because of the great science content. I can't find the science content in either and when I challenge people to show to me, I get the response that I'm looking too closely and need to enjoy both book and movies as works of fiction.

Thus, I now take it we are all agreed that the content and concepts of both works squarely fall into the fiction category - which is great with me. :)
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #102 on: November 08, 2015, 04:11:13 am »
I LOVE science FICTION. But I keep hearing this book and movie are so fantastic because of the great science content. I can't find the science content in either and when I challenge people to show to me, I get the response that I'm looking too closely and need to enjoy both book and movies as works of fiction.

It's all relative. This is unbelievably technical/nerdy compared to most books that the public read.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #103 on: November 08, 2015, 09:37:21 am »
I LOVE science FICTION. But I keep hearing this book and movie are so fantastic because of the great science content. I can't find the science content in either and when I challenge people to show to me, I get the response that I'm looking too closely and need to enjoy both book and movies as works of fiction.

You missing the point of the book. There aren't formula on every page, it's just a "the vibe".
You are one of very few technical people who are complaining about the book, there is a reason for that...
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #104 on: November 08, 2015, 09:40:44 am »
Three or four real tech scenes would have made all the difference IMHO.

To who? Us?
It's got 93% on the Tomato-meter. Adding that scene would not have helped with the public's perception of the movie as a "movie that involves science" in the slightest.
 

Offline HP-ILnerd

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #105 on: November 08, 2015, 10:19:06 am »

I can't find the science content in either and when I challenge people to show to me, I get the response that I'm looking too closely and need to enjoy both book and movies as works of fiction.

Thus, I now take it we are all agreed that the content and concepts of both works squarely fall into the fiction category - which is great with me. :)

You are so missing the point.  It doesn't matter how objectively plausible something is, in fiction everything portrayed is still false.  None of it happened, and none of it's going to.  Even the similarly themed historical fiction Apollo 13 is just a loose interpretation (fictionalization) of real events arranged into a story.

The point of Art is to communicate something, not instruct you on how something is supposed to work.  Exaggerations of artistic license exist to help communicate an idea.  In the case of The Martian, they could have easily done a more typical "believe in yourself and you can do anything" type theme, etc.  The theme of the The Martian is so unusual in it's acceptance of science as something that's not only powerful, but as human as music (and just as beautiful!), that it almost stands alone. 

Small bit of film analysis linked below.  Here, a guy breaks down and analyzes the famous "trio" scene from the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  He shows you the power of film to communicate something very powerful with three guys just standing there for three minutes.  If you look close, you will see substantial anachronisms.  A pedantic sort of person might be "taken out of the story" because even though they are just standing there, what's shown is physically impossible in the setting of the story, and thus utterly miss the point of the scene.  It's the difference between hearing and listening.
 

Offline mikerj

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #106 on: November 08, 2015, 10:36:48 am »
Also the plasic bag he put over the hole with duct tape  :palm:

I have to admit that my suspension of disbelief was pretty much suspended when I saw that :D 

Overall it was good though; expecting perfect technical accuracy from a Hollywood movie is just unrealistic (and undesirable if it gets in the way of making something that's engaging to watch).
« Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 10:44:15 am by mikerj »
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #107 on: November 08, 2015, 01:15:26 pm »
I LOVE science FICTION. But I keep hearing this book and movie are so fantastic because of the great science content. I can't find the science content in either and when I challenge people to show to me, I get the response that I'm looking too closely and need to enjoy both book and movies as works of fiction.

You missing the point of the book. There aren't formula on every page, it's just a "the vibe".
You are one of very few technical people who are complaining about the book, there is a reason for that...

I don't know what the hype has been like in Australia, but watching the hype here in 'Merica has been annoying to say the least .

NASA has landed on The Martian like a fly on shit, and is using fantasy science to promote a manned Mars mission of extraordinarily questionable planning.  We have a poorly written book full of bad science which begat a good movie with the prerequisite bad science both being used to promote an ostensibly "real" Mars mission who seemly can't grasp the concept that sending astronauts stuffed into the Orion capsule like sardines to Mars (among many other very real problems) is a ludicrous idea.

We will not get to Mars with these endless circle jerks of fantasy science that let anything we want to believe be true.  Magical thinking will not let us travel to the planets and to the stars. Good science will.
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #108 on: November 08, 2015, 05:31:01 pm »
Three or four real tech scenes would have made all the difference IMHO.
To who? Us?

Yep. We're not that much of a minority.

It's got 93% on the Tomato-meter. Adding that scene would not have helped with the public's perception of the movie as a "movie that involves science" in the slightest.
It would't have scored lower because of a couple of minutes of extra nerdiness.

It had extra added scenes at the end with him as a teacher saying "You solve one problem, then you solve the next...". Just show us him actually solving a problem or two!
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #109 on: November 08, 2015, 05:34:14 pm »
We will not get to Mars with these endless circle jerks of fantasy science that let anything we want to believe be true.  Magical thinking will not let us travel to the planets and to the stars. Good science will.

You never enjoyed Star Trek?

Magical thinking will get NASA funding. NASA funding is what gets people to Mars, not hardcore science in cinemas.

 

Offline Fungus

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #110 on: November 08, 2015, 06:01:28 pm »
Some people who only went through the arts have zero background in science.

Yet they have no problem expecting scientists to appreciate art.

It's always going to be a tough thing to bring something like this to a broad audience.

The real problem is that most people have no background in anything.

No, that's not true. The whole 'background' thing is a red herring. Some people have no natural curiosity. Some people see stuff they don't understand and their reaction is to go on Wikipedia and fill in the gaps. After a few decades of that, well... you end up knowing lots of stuff. It's inevitable. nb. You don't have to be a hardcore scientist to do this, there's taxi drivers who win quiz shows simply because they like reading about stuff.

Other people see stuff they don't understand and their reaction is.... nothing. I've had conversations with people who simply don't have the "why?" reaction. They're perfectly happy to be ignorant unless it's something that immediately benefits them (eg. learning to use a smartphone). What they know today is almost all they'll ever know in their lifetime. I don't get their point of view, they don't seem to get mine.  :-//
« Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 06:22:17 pm by Fungus »
 

Offline HP-ILnerd

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #111 on: November 08, 2015, 06:24:02 pm »
Calling the science in The Martian "Fantasy Science" is far more grotesque an exaggeration than any artistic exaggeration that was done in the story.  Reducing hydrazine into hydrogen and N2 then burning the hydrogen to make water is a real chemical reaction.  Determining how many calories he needed to survive to impose a time constraint was completely plausible.  Electric propulsion is real.  Centrifuges are real.  The orbital dynamics were accurate enough that a NASA engineer was able to (correctly) deduce the Ares III launch date from the scant clues in the book.  Made particularly difficult since the Hermes did not use impulsive burns on the transfer.  The bit with second sandstorm was not only plausible, but his discovery that the subtle effect would kill him and his solution to it was brilliant.  Shedding mass on the Ares IV MAV to make the deltaV requirements for escape was 100% plausible.  Using waste heat from an RTG to keep warm so he could save battery power is 100% plausible.  IIRC, the RTG had the same specs as the Curiosity rover's RTG.  Etc., etc.  The whole mission architecture is largely based on Mars Direct, which is a massive concession to reality.  One could easily call every real NASA Mars DRM prior to Mars Direct "unrealistic."

Comparing any of this to Sci-Fi where they make up substances that have properties that magically allow whatever they need in the story (cavorite, dilithium, element zero, "dark matter" as a power source, etc.) is ludicrous.  Gravity and it's Protagonist Seeking Debris Field is a polar opposite to the whole mindset of The MartianThat's fantasy science.  It's also typical of what we get from Hollywood.  Normally their only concern (in any genre) is storytelling. 

Berating Weir for getting some details wrong has a level of irony when it's not uncommon to get manuals or official documentation or even reference or text books that have stuff in them that are wrong, when they should be gospel.  I have a history book that has a factual error in the first sentence.  It's a lot to expect for anyone to have both the story-telling skills and the cross-disciplinary scientific and engineering expertise to make it letter-perfect.  Even if it were made absolutely plausible, you could still argue with it.  On that note, I think The Martian is a monumental achievement.

Science Fiction, like Star Trek (with it's four-dimensional array of bullshit physics) inspired tons of people to become real scientists and engineers.  The Martian can do the same.  This is why NASA (and huge numbers of their staff) like it so much.  You know what won't get us to Mars?  People not caring about it because science is perceived as boring facts and figures.  I think Mark Watney is going to inspire tons of kids to become real engineers and scientists.
 

Offline HP-ILnerd

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #112 on: November 08, 2015, 06:55:47 pm »
Some people who only went through the arts have zero background in science.

Yet they have no problem expecting scientists to appreciate art.


Not an expectation, choosing a target audience is a financial reality. 

Quote

The real problem is that most people have no background in anything.

No, that's not true. The whole 'background' thing is a red herring. Some people have no natural curiosity. Some people see stuff they don't understand and their reaction is to go on Wikipedia and fill in the gaps. After a few decades of that, well... you end up knowing lots of stuff. It's inevitable. nb. You don't have to be a hardcore scientist to do this, there's taxi drivers who win quiz shows simply because they like reading about stuff.

Other people see stuff they don't understand and their reaction is.... nothing. I've had conversations with people who simply don't have the "why?" reaction. They're perfectly happy to be ignorant unless it's something that immediately benefits them (eg. learning to use a smartphone). What they know today is almost all they'll ever know in their lifetime. I don't get their point of view, they don't seem to get mine.  :-//


George Carlin had a bit about how people were trained to be just smart enough to work the machines, but just dumb enough to not tell they were being screwed over.  I don't know about you, but the school system I went through did not have a culture of celebrating learning so much as celebrating sports.  True or not, it's easy to connect the dots between those ideas.  Empirically, I think we got exactly the population we paid to get, whether it was on purpose or not.

I'm in a peculiar position of being an artist with a technical background.  The ability for those two groups to communicate with each other is frustrating, but being able to talk with both, I have to say they are not as far apart as it seems.  I believe it's mostly a top-down vs bottom up approach to language.  In science, precision is important to the meaning of words, whereas in the arts, it's very context-sensitive.  One is about inference, the other about perception.  There are strong analogies between many of the thought processes they both use, but they use different words to describe them.  Inevitably, this can lead to both completely missing what the other is trying to say--even if it's largely the same thing.

Deftly steering my comments back on-topic, I must say The Martian is a lovely synthesis of the technical and artistic.  It's success is proof that there are a lot of people who want to hear about this stuff, just not as a laundry list of facts.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #113 on: November 08, 2015, 07:30:38 pm »
Yep. We're not that much of a minority.

Yes, we are.

Quote
It would't have scored lower because of a couple of minutes of extra nerdiness.

I may very well have.
There are already many reviewers saying there was "too much science" or insert word like "impenetrable", or phase like "over my head".
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #114 on: November 08, 2015, 07:36:24 pm »
Calling the science in The Martian "Fantasy Science" is far more grotesque an exaggeration than any artistic exaggeration that was done in the story.  Reducing hydrazine into hydrogen and N2 then burning the hydrogen to make water is a real chemical reaction.  Determining how many calories he needed to survive to impose a time constraint was completely plausible.  Electric propulsion is real.  Centrifuges are real.  The orbital dynamics were accurate enough that a NASA engineer was able to (correctly) deduce the Ares III launch date from the scant clues in the book.  Made particularly difficult since the Hermes did not use impulsive burns on the transfer.  The bit with second sandstorm was not only plausible, but his discovery that the subtle effect would kill him and his solution to it was brilliant.  Shedding mass on the Ares IV MAV to make the deltaV requirements for escape was 100% plausible.  Using waste heat from an RTG to keep warm so he could save battery power is 100% plausible.  IIRC, the RTG had the same specs as the Curiosity rover's RTG.  Etc., etc.  The whole mission architecture is largely based on Mars Direct, which is a massive concession to reality.  One could easily call every real NASA Mars DRM prior to Mars Direct "unrealistic."

Comparing any of this to Sci-Fi where they make up substances that have properties that magically allow whatever they need in the story (cavorite, dilithium, element zero, "dark matter" as a power source, etc.) is ludicrous.

Well said, nailed it.  :clap:

Quote
Even if it were made absolutely plausible, you could still argue with it.  On that note, I think The Martian is a monumental achievement.

Yep, I suspect that nothing would ever satisfy LabSpokane, and that is why hardly anyone else technical shares his viewpoint. Most are able to see it as you described above.
 

Offline Len

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #115 on: November 09, 2015, 04:04:35 am »
You missing the point of the book. There aren't formula on every page, it's just a "the vibe".
You are one of very few technical people who are complaining about the book, there is a reason for that...

Andy Weir could write a book with all the calculations and justifications for the science in "The Martian", and maybe he should, but it would be a completely different type of book.
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #116 on: November 09, 2015, 07:12:30 am »
Yep, I suspect that nothing would ever satisfy LabSpokane, and that is why hardly anyone else technical shares his viewpoint. Most are able to see it as you described above.

I would be satisfied by my tax dollars going to fund a plausible mission to Mars, rather than promoting Andy Weir's book and Ridley Scott's movie.

Unlike some very fortunate people here, I do not get to interact with the real movers and shakers of our space program often.  The few times I have, the conversations are more magical, more interesting, and more entertaining than anything fantasy science has to offer. 

I will grant you all that "Mac Gyver goes to Mars" has a high degree of entertainment value, and that "the vibe" of that is much cooler than of typical Hollywood fare.  If Marc Watney inspires students to reach into space, so be it. 
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #117 on: November 09, 2015, 07:14:58 am »
You missing the point of the book. There aren't formula on every page, it's just a "the vibe".
You are one of very few technical people who are complaining about the book, there is a reason for that...

Andy Weir could write a book with all the calculations and justifications for the science in "The Martian", and maybe he should, but it would be a completely different type of book.

Well, Andy *did* write a book with a bunch of calculations.
 

Online senso

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #118 on: December 03, 2015, 09:09:58 pm »
Is the book a dumbed down version of the .txt chapters that where originally on the web site and the movie is a dumbed down version of the book?
 

Offline wilfred

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #119 on: December 03, 2015, 09:34:16 pm »
Is the book a dumbed down version of the .txt chapters that where originally on the web site and the movie is a dumbed down version of the book?

The movie can't be 6 hours long. Movies aren't books. You need to keep the pace right and slowing to a crawl to expound each and every thought the character has is not going to make for a very entertaining movie. So do you want to call that "dumbed-down"? If so, then yes, it was dumbed down.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #120 on: December 03, 2015, 09:48:16 pm »
Yep, I suspect that nothing would ever satisfy LabSpokane, and that is why hardly anyone else technical shares his viewpoint. Most are able to see it as you described above.
I would be satisfied by my tax dollars going to fund a plausible mission to Mars, rather than promoting Andy Weir's book and Ridley Scott's movie.

How were your tax dollars spent on this book and movie exactly?
Sure NASA consulted on the movie (perhaps even paid consulting?), but they do the same for many movies like this. Nothing unusual at all there. Just like the military will lend an operational aircraft carrier for use in movies. It's agency publicity 101.
And grumbling over NASA consulting on such a movie that can ignite the imaginations of a generation of kids, and also possibly influence funding for the agency for new missions etc, is just truly sad  :palm:
IMO it's one of the best bang-per-buck uses of their budget possible.
This might help:

 

Online senso

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #121 on: December 03, 2015, 09:49:04 pm »
It is a legit question..
Dumbed down in the Prometheus sense of look there is air -> remove helmets, be responsible for the mapping, get lost, that kind of Hollywood dumbing down.
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #122 on: December 04, 2015, 02:25:12 pm »
Yep, I suspect that nothing would ever satisfy LabSpokane, and that is why hardly anyone else technical shares his viewpoint. Most are able to see it as you described above.
I would be satisfied by my tax dollars going to fund a plausible mission to Mars, rather than promoting Andy Weir's book and Ridley Scott's movie.

How were your tax dollars spent on this book and movie exactly?

The money was spent on endless promotions.  Maybe you missed it in Australia, but it was pretty obvious here.  You can label it "inspiring the children."  I call it corporate welfare.  It is re-appropriation of money that was supposed to conduct space exploration, instead frittered away making the rich richer. 

Quote
IMO it's one of the best bang-per-buck uses of their budget possible.

While movie promotions may be arguably better uses of the money than the current Orion / Mars mission train wreck, I can think of a TON of better ways to inspire young people to explore the stars.  Instead of all this fantasy, how about spending money helping kids explore space REALITY.  Building a cube sat, getting telescope time, working as an intern, instrumenting model rockets, teaching basic orbital mechanics...   I could go on for pages, and there's a gazillion ways to inspire space exploration that do not involve re-distribution of wealth from the 99% to the 1% - to use common euphemisms. 

 If NASA wants to promote movies, then we seriously need to consider cutting NASA's budget and funding real science.  Real space science is in a world of shit here.  NSF is getting ready to jettison the Arecibo observatory as well as a good deal of other irreplaceable astronomy infrastructure.  Without Arecibo, there would have been no ISEE-3 rescue mission.  Even though that effort did not ultimately succeed, ISEE-3 Reboot was a model for how to engage the public with real space science.  Watching a crew of citizen engineers and scientists try to rescue a real space probe in real time was awesome, inspirational, and incredibly educational. 

As one of the 300-odd million people actually paying for NASA's activities, I have a right to voice my opinion on how my tax dollars are being expended.  And there are simply much better options than subsidizing the entertainment industry.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #123 on: December 04, 2015, 02:36:33 pm »
The money was spent on endless promotions.  Maybe you missed it in Australia, but it was pretty obvious here.  You can label it "inspiring the children."  I call it corporate welfare.  It is re-appropriation of money that was supposed to conduct space exploration, instead frittered away making the rich richer. 

Part of NASA's directive is also education. They even have a whole department for it:
http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/index.html

Quote
While movie promotions may be arguably better uses of the money than the current Orion / Mars mission train wreck, I can think of a TON of better ways to inspire young people to explore the stars.  Instead of all this fantasy, how about spending money helping kids explore space REALITY.  Building a cube sat, getting telescope time, working as an intern, instrumenting model rockets, teaching basic orbital mechanics...   I could go on for pages, and there's a gazillion ways to inspire space exploration that do not involve re-distribution of wealth from the 99% to the 1% - to use common euphemisms. 

They do that stuff, like CubeSAT's:
http://www.nasa.gov/feature/elana-ix


Quote
If NASA wants to promote movies, then we seriously need to consider cutting NASA's budget and funding real science. 

They aren't just promoting a movie, they are promoting science and space, that's part of their job!

Quote
Real space science is in a world of shit here. 

And that won't get fixed long term without inspiring kids to getting into a STEM and space stuff. NASA would have been fools, and probably criticised very harshly if they refused to participate in a huge movie like this.
And arguably, this movie has been the biggest shot in the arm for NASA and science and public interest in space since the Apollo program.

Quote
As one of the 300-odd million people actually paying for NASA's activities, I have a right to voice my opinion on how my tax dollars are being expended.  And there are simply much better options than subsidizing the entertainment industry.

I think your view of this is completely warped.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2015, 02:38:31 pm by EEVblog »
 

Offline coppice

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Re: eevBLAB#15 - The Martian Movie Review
« Reply #124 on: December 04, 2015, 02:45:27 pm »
How were your tax dollars spent on this book and movie exactly?
The money was spent on endless promotions.  Maybe you missed it in Australia, but it was pretty obvious here.  You can label it "inspiring the children."  I call it corporate welfare.  It is re-appropriation of money that was supposed to conduct space exploration, instead frittered away making the rich richer. 
Do you have numbers for how much was spent? Without supporting evidence anecdotes like this just sound like the ranting of a grumpy old man.
 


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