The Martian is mainly concerned with being entertaining, with using humor to combat the desperation that might accompany an extended stay on a paradise like Mars. There’s a lightheartedness that pervades the entire movie, and although that does weaken some of the bigger emotional moments, it’s still a fun change of tone after intense films like Gravity and Interstellar (both of which are superior, by the way). This is a celebration of human intelligence, of cooperation and a can-do attitude. What’s refreshing about it is that it’s not dominated by contrived suspense sequences that are the results of infuriatingly dumb character decisions. These people know what they’re doing, perhaps even too well. Mark Watney in particular makes surviving on Mars look like a stroll through the park, but then again, that’s part of the charm of the movie.
Black Mass features an outstanding cast and intriguing historical context, but it’s all wrapped up in a by-the-numbers plod through various events in Whitey Bulger’s life. It has its moments, but this is one instance in which too much focus on the facts harms the rest of the movie. It’s like Scott Cooper looked at a timeline and found everything worth acknowledging, but nothing worth delving into. The running time is too short for the amount he tries to cover, and it’s about right for the method he should’ve taken: really diving into one period of Bulger’s life, into one particular aspect of his story.
“If there’s one thing that we should have learned, it’s that our brains have always outraced our hearts. Our science charges ahead. Our souls lag behind.”
Battlestar Galactica is, at heart, a series about the ways we interact as a people, about the ways we define ourselves and move forward as members of a civilization. It has its ideas about religion and science and technology and conflict, but what it continually returns to is the notion of humanity, humanity at both its best and at its worst. Through this well-developed cast of characters, the writers have assembled a group of people who have faced unending pain and heartbreak throughout their lives, yet still find solace and purpose in the flawed individuals around them. And when the show uses those individuals to convey the dark side of human nature, it oftentimes does so with the possibility of something better on the horizon. The capacity to destroy each other, the capacity to love someone else, the capacity to redeem ourselves…human beings have the capacity to do so many things, and it’s up to us to choose where we end up. Even though the execution of the final set of scenes runs dangerously close to the show taking sides about technology, the ultimate point I see for the series is that technology is not inherently bad; rather, what determines our fates is how quickly our souls can catch up to the science.
EPISODE 8: “Ahoy, Mateys!”
The opening scene of this episode pretty much spells out where Duncan’s at right now. We open with a dream sequence consisting of an Angel/Devil image–Meg’s dressed all in white, Veronica’s dressed all in black–and the subsequent scenes serve to emphasize just how torn Duncan’s subconscious is at the moment. He sees Veronica and Logan talking to each other on the couch, but he essentially pays no attention to them and moves right on to the Meg letter.
EPISODE 6: “RAT SAW GOD”
Hey, it’s season one all over again! I’m happy that last season’s storylines aren’t going away, although it’s interesting how this season’s tapestry is already more intricate than last season’s, and we’re only six episodes in. I’ll wait to see whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but one thing’s for sure right now: “Rat Saw God” is a very tightly plotted and extremely entertaining episode that deftly brings Amelia DeLongpre, Clarence Wiedman, Abel Koontz, and Aaron Echolls back into the fold.
Because everyone needs to watch this.
Video credit: CBS, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert