Archive for November 21st, 2012

‘Mars’ answers the pressing question: Like, dude, what if we sent three slacker astronauts to Mars?

November 21, 2012

When I was in my 20s, I had a friend who decided that he might make a really great comedian, or at least a great comic writer. I recall numerous occasions (including New York City subway rides) when he would recount various ideas for comic sketches that he wanted to submit to Saturday Night Live. 

The only concept that I recall clearly involved an ATM for a sperm bank where patrons could make convenient withdrawals and (Wait for it! Wait for it!) deposits.

However good this notion may have been, increased exposure did nothing to increase the fondness that I and my other friends had for it. Hearing the concept described in public settings, such as the subway, were especially uncomfortable.

That memory came to mind the other night when I watched Mars, a quasi-animated feature written and directed by Geoff Marslett. (More on the meaning of “quasi-animated” later.) This independent picture is best described by — well, pick your favorite adjective for indie movies: quirky, offbeat, eccentric, unusual, eclectic, original…

The main storyline involves Charlie Brownsville, Hank Morrison and Dr. Casey Cook. In 2015, they crew Minerva I, the first manned expedition to the red planet. A subplot features Beagle 2, the real-life probe that crashed while attempting to land on Mars in 2003, and a fictional follow-up explorer named Art. (That stands for autonomous rover technology.) Art disappears on Mars near the spot where Beagle did, frustrating the roboticist and European Space Agency officials tracking the newer mission.

NASA grows curious about this site. It changes Minerva’s mission, steering its landing craft toward the probes, where the astronauts might discover…something.

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