By Armando S. Valdes (Hallandale Beach, Florida, USA)
I love sci-fi films and it truly pains me to see such a waste. Great actors, great production set and CG (hence the two stars) but a total lack of physics/biology/botany and science in general, and so many plot holes I just couldn’t suspend my belief system (and I am pretty good at it). I think they should have spent a few more dollars and hired a scientific consultant (even a high school physics student). Here are a few curiosity issues [**SPOILER ALERT** Well, read on if you want, I think it will add entertainment value when you see the film]:
1. Calvin needed a specific atmosphere with more CO2 (as in “early earth”). Changing that in any way would affect Calvin profoundly physiologically. We survive the O2, although highly corrosive, as it is in the perfect proportions, in the atmosphere for the current species on earth to live and prosper. Any change would affect any life destructively. But Calvin goes through the ship, with the humans’ current atmospheric proportions, with no problem.
2a. The lab. It is supposed to be closed off environment but the fire extinguisher openings lead into the ship. Really!!!? A perfectly contained room would have the vents- but the vent areas, which contain the extinguisher gases, would also be perfectly closed and self-contained. The vents just open to release the gas into the other part of the enclosed area. It’s not enough, if one wanted to be perfectly safe, to have a difference in pressure between the two compartments, as a virulent organism could bypass it, as in this case.
2b. The lab. Why only the rubber gloves? I think we should have applied the robotic arms any decent space lab would have. The kind that deal with radioactive substances. Also, what about non-invasive monitoring (e.g. X-ray, MR, IR).
3. As Calvin is a Carbon based, cellular life form, when outside the ship, the lack of atmosphere, pressure and extreme temperature would affect the cells – absolutely. Calvin cannot be outside the ship, especially the amount of time that time the Calvin was there. Newton’s 3rd: in our human bodies we survive with an air pressure of 1 atm: being outside the ship without a suit, well, it would be messy. Hence, why is Calvin not affected at all?
4. Since technology was not found on Mars, Calvin, although intelligent in a way, would not comprehend technology. Would not know how to pilot a ship to earth (rather than being flown out to deep space). Since it’s more a complete predator, it doesn’t need technology to be top-of-the-food-chain (e.g. a lion).
5. The thrusters have openings to the station. Really!!!? That doesn’t make sense as everything needs to be completely sealed so energy and matter (e.g. O2 fuel, life support O2) do not escape. There should be no “open” way in.
6. The Biologist Hugh is stupid beyond belief. What kind of experiments is he conducting? I mean, shocking the creature to see what happens!?! No imaging or sensing technologies- let’s just try electricity… Doctor from where?? Also, when Calvin attaches to his leg, he must have seen it (even though he couldn’t directly feel it) or felt the difference in balance/torque to his body. But it’s almost as he let it get him, knew it, and was calm about it. Because when he spoke about Calvin, Hugh spoke some nonsense about Calvin survival instincts. Seriously!!!?
7. I didn’t understand why the firewall 3, the capsule pulling the space station out to space, fell apart. What happened with Sho? Where there no failsafe systems in place?
8. Why did Miranda go out to deep space? She had full control of the lifeboat. Nothing messed with her. Okay, maybe she wasn’t a fighter pilot but she had the training to at least pilot one. It’s a “lifeboat.” She should be able to get it to earth.
9. If the last firewall (3?) was invoked, that is, get the space station into deep space, the protocol should have included disabling the “lifeboats” automatically, with no hope of launching. Why allow anything back? Better to go for a deep space and self-nuke -just to be sure – it’s clean. Also, point it towards the Sun, a little push, and let gravity do the work. Let Calvin try to survive billions of nuclear explosions.
10. It was unusually strong. I would expect a creature from Mars, with smaller gravity than earth, to be weaker when it gets to earth or even in the space ship (with 0g), not stronger.
11. There was a scene where Calvin could be tracked, as “it ate the tracking device.” This doesn’t make sense as it seemed to absorb nutrients, not eat them in the same way as humans, where pieces of food lay while acid and digestive enzymes work on it. Anyway, metal would not be digestible, hence it would just drop it. It never seemed to keep food or anything else with it.
12. All organisms have attackers. Remember War of the World? Yes, viruses and bacteria (although as I said, a nuke is fine). Parasites, poisonous plants, other organisms and nasty chemicals can make earth a tough place to live. Welcome to earth.
13. I’m really glad the Asian fisherman was there to help. His thoughts: “Capsule from space. Looking through window, everything seems okay… well, the large octopus-thing looks harmless, after all, I am a fisherman. Let me open the capsule and help the guy.”
Really, NASA/World Space Authority should have sent Mark Watney back up (none of the crew understood, at all, “Do the math. Solve the problem.”).