It’s not often that I get to discuss whether the book was better than the movie or the other way around, but look at this, I had actually read The Martian! Andy Weir’s book, while incredibly difficult to understand in some of the ‘science heavy’ parts, was exciting, extremely funny, and a true page-turner. Ridley Scott took on the challenge of turning a very complicated book into a major motion picture. Trying to balance a movie that primarily focuses on one person by themselves, as well as incorporating actual science and not dumbing it down too much, is a difficult thing to do. Through good visuals, decent acting, and a mixture of action and some humor, Scott succeeded in making The Martian a triumph on the silver screen, too.
The film, as I would imagine almost all films that are based on books do, cut out significant portions of the book which is frustrating but understandable. As with the novel, the audience is immediately, from the very first scene, sent into this journey as Matt Damon’s character is stranded alone on Mars. As NASA struggles to cope with the fallout of losing an astronaut, and the crew struggles even more with losing their friend and colleague, it’s eventually revealed that…you guessed it…he’s alive! With nothing but degrees in botany and engineering, and rations that won’t last very long at all, he must make himself last long enough until a plan is in the works. Through failed plans again and again, it’s up to one man on Mars, one crew in space, and thousands on Earth to bring him home.
The acting was OK, but nothing that was impressive at all. Whether the choice of the director or screenwriter (or Damon’s ability), the humor of the main character was well, well short of what was in the book. There were moments that made you chuckle a bit, as opposed to the laughing out loud that each chapter provided while reading the novel. The impressive cast, including Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena and more, were decent at best, which left a little to be desired. But perhaps in a science fiction movie based on Mars and in space, acting chops aren’t the things you’re really looking for. With that said, the scenery, the look of space and the red planet, were very impressive. Further, the movie kept a decent pace, holding my interest most of the way through. So while it ultimately did not come close to matching the book, The Martian was a fun and very cool looking movie that’s worth seeing.
THE MARTIAN: (out of 4)
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