Good Monday morning everyone! I hope you all had a great fall weekend. I spent my Saturday driving around a local town garage sale shopping with the spousal unit. Didn’t have much luck, but I did find my very own Star Ship Enterprise Christmas Ornament! I’ve been coveting one for some time now and that I managed to pick one up still in box for $5, score. It is now hanging on my book-case next to my Dr. McCoy ornament, we no longer celebrate Christmas so I am just going to display my Trek paraphernalia year around. Sunday was the day I’ve been looking forward to for a few weeks now. We started off our day going to see The Martian in theaters!!! I was so excited to go see this movie, most of you know how much I loved the book and to see it come to life on the big screen was awesome. The rest of this post is going to be dedicated to my review of the movie. I will try to stay major spoiler free, but I would like to discuss the differences between the movie and book, kinda hard to do without talking about the plot. So this is your first warning! If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie and DON’T want it spoiled in any way click away now. You can always come back and read the rest after you’ve read/seen it.
…..Still here? Going to read on? Alright proceed at your own risk. I’ll warn you again before I get to the big spoiler stuff at the end.
My thoughts on the movie version of The Martian
First off let me just say the book is better hands down no comparison, but isn’t that usually the case. I did enjoy the movie, would give it five stars on Netflix and plan to actually buy it when it comes out on DVD…it will look nice sitting next to my copy of the book… Visually the movie was stunning, the landscape of Mars and even the time spent at Nasa gave the organization a larger than life feel; far different from the sad neglected underfunded government agency that can’t even send people into space on its own anymore. Hopefully this movie can inspire a new generation of people who are excited about exploring our solar system.
The cast was excellent with the exception of Matt Damon as Mark Watney. Now hear me out before you jump all over me. I think he is a fine actor and did a remarkable job in the movie. I hope he receives Oscar nomination for the role and he will have earned it, BUT he is NOT Mark Watney. He isn’t. There is just something off about his portrayal of this character. He was not the right pick, perhaps he is the best they could find, but his personality is missing something for this part. Husband and I spent much time discussing this point over the weekend, and I believe I have figured out why he doesn’t work for me are Watney. He is simply too stiff. He is missing the smart ass sarcastic gene that makes Watney. He is more of a dramatic actor than a humor based one. He couldn’t pull off the humor, in my opinion, that was so vital to the story. Now much of the humor was cut from the movie, its focus being more on the dramatic elements of Watney’s survival than the humor he uses to endure. I don’t think it hurt the movie, but I wonder if other fans of the book will notice/feel the same way. I don’t know who I would have picked to play Watney instead of Damon, the only name that came to mind was Chris Pine. Through his portrayal of Kirk in the Star Trek franchise I believe we have seen that he has the comedic timing and sass that was needed for this role.
The movie was a bit slow, it read more suspenseful than it came of on-screen. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, but Hollywood almost has us trained to expect a car chase, shoot out, monster, or explosion every few minutes on-screen in order to keep our attention. I also loved how this movie is a space exploration piece that is based upon real science. Now I love my Trek, but I think this will have a wider appeal to a larger audience that can hopefully see that we might make it to Mars in our lifetime.
This is an excellent read and movie and I hope you all take the time to at least watch it, but also read it. The movie is great, but it is simply a drop in the bucket compared to the book.
Second Warning: You are now leaving the Spoiler Free Zone.
Alright, now for those of you that have read the book and might have seen the movie we get to the good stuff. What was different from the book! Actually not a helluva lot. There were some things they changed of course a movie and a book are two vastly different formats. There is timing to consider, visual elements, etc. A movie is never going to be exactly like the book. The major differences I noticed: Watney is keeping a video journal instead of a written one (obviously), Three’s Company has been replaced by another 70’s TV show, Watney seems to have an endless supply of paper (something that he was noted as having a limited supply of in the book), he also never loses contact with Nasa before he leaves for Ares 4’s Mav, the second rover has been destroyed early in the movie leaving him only one to work, he never creates the ‘pop-up’ room to attach to the rover during his journey. The most noticeable changes were the additions to the movie that were not in the book and I’ll be discussing them soon.
Then there is the stuff they left out. Quite a bit of I can understand the movie was two hours long and we would need probably double or triple that to fit everything in. For this book I agree that much of the day to day survival and journal entries of Watney would not have transferred well to the big screen. It would have simply been too boring or irrelevant. Some of the things I’m disappointed didn’t make it to the movie revolve around his trip across Mars. They cut pretty much all of that including the huge dust storm he has to contend with and when the two rovers tip as he nears the Ares 4 site.
There was much the movie did right though and I appreciate how some of this story was better portrayed through a visual telling rather than in print. The deterioration of Watney’s physical condition was far more dramatic on-screen than in print. When you can see how much weight he lost and the personal care that ends up being compromised due to his extended stay…it was much more shocking on-screen. I also like how the movie went beyond the book at the end. The book ends shortly after the crew rescues Watney and they begin they return trip home. The movie takes us beyond that and we get to see Watney back on Earth with a glimpse of what happened to him and the rest of the crew when they got home. This was probably my favorite addition to the story that Hollywood contributed to The Martian. There is one corny addition/change that Hollywood felt they needed to make. In the book Watney does talk about leaving the Mav and using an Iron Man maneuver to reach the Hermes ship. He doesn’t in the book the crew member reaches the Mav and Watney stays safely in his seat until they can get a tether on him. In the movie they had him punch a hole in his suit and jet across open space and is caught dramatically by the captain before they are both pulled back safely to the ship. I’m thinking they made this change to add drama and because it would be more visually stunning on-screen. Personally I thought it was too cheesy. All of the untethered space walking was bit much actually and not very realistic.
Over all like I said I did enjoy the movie, it wasn’t as great as I was expecting, but still a five-star film. I will be rooting for it come award season for sure. I’m glad I saw it, and Hollywood didn’t destroy this story as much as I thought they would, which I’m glad. While I think movie will probably be enjoyed more by people who haven’t read the book first, I am hoping that those who love it then go and pick up the book afterwards. After all nothing is going to compare to what you can visually create in your own imagination.