I recently saw The Maritan in theaters with my friend Mel. We were both blown away by this incredible movie, and while I could only appreciate the film, Mel read the book and has some great insight into how the movie actually stood up to the book.
The following review is written by Mel – I hope you enjoy her wit and observations!
Guest Post – Book to Movie Review: The Martian by Andy Weir
Andy Weir’s The Martian, which could be described as Murphy’s Law in space, is one of this decade’s most lauded novels. Fans rejoiced when it was announced that Ridley Scott would be bringing The Martian to the big screen, and the movie, which actually has been described as Apollo 13 meets Cast Away, was just released Friday, October 2nd.
As a Movie
Grossing $55M in its opening weekend in North America alone, there’s no arguing that The Martian is on track to become a huge hit. There’s a good reason for that too: this movie is absolutely stunning.
Here’s the sitch: Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets deserted on Mars when his crew has to make an emergency exit in the middle of a sandstorm. Watney is impaled by an antenna and presumed dead. It turns out, Watney actually survives the injury (If you didn’t realize that the movie is called The Martian because a man is living alone on Mars, then I guess that could be a spoiler.) and has to figure out how to continue surviving until another team can be sent to retrieve him.
As Watney navigates through a series of problems that only a brilliant scientist could, the audience gets to eavesdrop on the inner monologue of this very snarky, very witty man. And every second is delightful.
As A Book Adaptation
My biggest concern when I found out about the movie adaptation of The Martian was that it would take detailed science and dumb it down to the point of barely existing. If you’ve read the book, you know that author Andy Weir did his research. I was worried that minutiae such as Watney figuring out how to grow potatoes on Mars or create water would be scrapped to make room for more flashy cinematics such as explosions and sandstorms.
Fortunately, the movie is a fantastic balance of show and tell. We get to see Watney “science the s*** out of” everything available to him on Mars, and we also get a behind-the-science in the form of his video journals.
On the other side of the spectrum, I was worried that the movie would try so hard to preserve the science from the book that it would fail at capturing the audience. Formulas and procedures work great on paper, but they don’t translate well to a visual medium. I truly had no reason to fret, though, because for every detailed analysis of constant-thrust trajectories, there is an over-simplified explanation of making water: “Take hydrogen. Add oxygen. Burn.”
I consider the movie to be sort of a skeleton form of the book. All the pieces fit together, it’s fully functional, and it has the added bonus of being a bit spooky. If you want more than that, the book adds the nerve endings and connective tissue and puts a nice smooth skin on top of everything. If you like the movie, you can be satisfied with what you’ve gleaned from it. But if you loved the movie, you can pick up the book and get extra layers to add to your experience.
The Martian, as a movie, seems to have something for everyone. Fans of disco can groove on some “Hot Stuff” (baby this evenin’), lovers of Lord of the Rings can enjoy a nod to a certain council (with bonus Sean Bean!), and all of us can appreciate a timeless lesson in humanity. Come for the science, stay for the heart.
If you’re not yet aware of the enormous popularity of this book/movie, you should probably also know that refugees have fled Syria, Donald Trump is running for U.S. president, and the current pope is a pretty liberal guy. The Martian is one of those stories that people can’t help but talk about, and if you want to join in on the conversations, do yourself a favor and at least see the movie. You’ll be so glad you did.
**Thanks, Mel, for this great review!