When my parents dragged me to The Big Short, I was unenthused and dubious. I know little to the nothing about the complex world of economics and the stock market crash of 2008 came when I was a mere fourth grader. Despite my finite knowledge of the topic the film grapples with so expertly, I found myself captivated the entire two hours. The movie’s illustrious cast (Bale, Gosling, Carell, Pitt) allows for a comedic undercurrent that complements the heavy, intricate plotline perfectly. The movie’s intention is to clarify the clandestine crash of 2008 with the help of today’s biggest Hollywood icons. Due in part to a smart script, a humorous ensemble cast, and a plotline that has begged for clarity since 2008, The Big Short is a well-executed Hollywood lark. The movie follows the discovery (led by Christian Bale’s character, Michael Burry) of the imminent stock market crash, in which “subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting.” Despite the unfamiliar language of the film, it is in fact targeted to an audience that is as oblivious as myself. Through a unique incorporation of celebrities, delivering ridiculous synopses of the 2008 crash, viewers begin to solidify their once cursory knowledge of the topic. Regardless of my previous loyalty to the actors in the film, The Big Short is a wonderfully executed movie: funny, smart, and ultimately, elucidating. In spite of its lack of attention given at last night’s Oscars, I highly recommend giving it your own attention.
A skeptical viewer, I stepped into the movie theater with little knowledge of Matt Damon’s The Martian and left with an entirely newfound respect and appreciation for space and its brave inhabitants. The movie, adapted from a 2011 novel by Andy Weir, follows the taxing journey of a mistakenly dead astronaut (Matt Damon) as he struggles to survive on Mars. An astute biologist, Mark Watney devotes himself to his survival and return to Earth. Through NASA’s sophisticated technology, Watney is able to communicate to those on Earth that he is in fact alive and working to make it home. Despite a series of crippling setbacks, Watney finds his faith in the thought of returning home restored by the unanimous support of his old crew and NASA employees. The film also briefly examines the political relationships between the domineering science communities of the world, namely China. The country extends a lifeline to the US after thoughtful deliberation – a subtle nod to the intricacy of global politics. The film’s vivid and realistic depiction of life in space and the struggles that ensue offered itself as a worthwhile student discussion in my science class. Teacher-initiated, the conversation about the film raised several important scientific questions regarding the eco-life on Mars and the elusive inner-workings of NASA. Overall, I would highly recommend The Martian as a film for all audiences regardless of their interest in science (I myself am not a huge fan). And although I cannot yet recommend the book, I look forward to reading it and sharing my thoughts on this forum!