Monday, March 14, 2016

Movie Monday: The Martian

The Martian
When opportunity arises, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good story in any form.

Film Title: The Martian

Book Title: The Martian
Release Year: 2015

Summary: When astronaut Mark Watney is accidentally left alone on Mars, he has to "science" his way to survival. Meanwhile, NASA scrambles to formulate a feasible rescue plan.

What I Thought: Back when I read this book in 2014, I speculated it would not be long before a film adaptation would be made. The reality of that prediction proved itself so much better than my expectations. 

First of all, Ridley Scott and Matt Damon are so good at their jobs. As is everyone else who worked on this movie, of course. Scott and Damon, however, carry the film. Damon makes being completely isolated far less mundane than Tom Hanks did in Castaway (though I love him, too, and fully recognize that Damon had supporting cast while Hanks literally just talked to a volleyball the whole movie) and Scott brought his incredible directorial skills out in full force. That this movie has not been nominated for more this award season is astonishing. Why don't the Hollywood elite realize that science fiction and fantasy can be compelling, beautiful, powerful stories as well?

The book leans heavily on explaining all the science behind Watney's survival. The movie does include some of that, but very little in comparison. I thought that was a great decision not only in order to make the movie more appealing to the masses, but I also thought the book had too much of that element. It was impressive in the book, but I was glad to see less of it on screen.

Time went much faster in the movie. I understand that demonstrating the passage of time on screen can be difficult. In the book, however, you get much more of a sense of Watney's interminable hours and days and months. There's much more focus on the time gap in communication. Again, perhaps this decision makes the movie better for more audiences, but in this case I would have like a better sense of the weight of all that time.

The biggest difference was definitely the end. To those who have not read or seen the movie, I am offering a big spoiler alert right now. First of all, Watney does not face the huge sandstorm while traveling across Mars. This point of so much tension and anxiety in the book is cut from the movie completely. Secondly, the rescue itself ends up having quite a few details change. Watney cuts a hole in his glove to propel him toward his rescuers - not in the book. Also, the film has the Commander (Jessica Chastain) be the one to rescue him, rather than another crew member. Makes sense when you consider the need to showcase one of their other big name actors.

All in all, the changes are palatable and most assist in the transition from page to screen. The film is really, really good and I definitely recommend it, whether you have read the book or not. Of course, you should read the book first. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Watch: For sure

A Reduced Review: An all-around well-made film, both as an adaptation and in its own right. 

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