Three years ago I read The Martian and quite enjoyed it. You can find my review of it here. So when they announced that they were making it into a movie, I was obviously excited, yet tried not to get overly attached to this idea since Hollywood has a history of butchering beloved books when they are turned into movies.
Having read the book I had very high expectations for this movie. Yes, there would be things different in this version than in the book, I accept that as sometimes things don’t fit or translate well onto the big screen, but I was hopeful and worried about how things would turn out.
One of the first things that popped into my mind when watching this movie was “Murph!” That may sound confusing so let me explain. Jessica Chastain plays Commander Lewis in this movie, but she also plays Murph in Interstellar, and after watching Interstellar I couldn’t help but think, and want to yell out “Murph!” when I saw her on screen (people who have seen Interstellar should understand). Moving on.
Right from the beginning, I fell in love with the movie. I had some reservations about Matt Damon playing the role of Mark Watney, but my concern was alleviated as I sat there. I quickly fell in love with his portrayal of Mark. I laughed at some of the lines, especially the “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” That line amused me in the book, but hearing it in the movie was fantastic.
We all know that astronauts get incredible training before they embark on their missions, while they each may have their specialty, they all have to have a general knowledge of how things work, and that is a big theme of this movie. Mark doesn’t just grow plants, which as a botanist is his specialty, but he has to preform medical procedures on himself, jury rig his living quarters and the vehicles in order to survive and learn the hard way through his failures.
One of the things I liked more about the movie than the book, was seeing things getting done. My one big complaint about the book had been that the parts that were filled with describing what he was doing, how he was rigging this or that in order to extend his chance of survival, were so dry. I get it, they had to be described, and there is still a bit of that in the book, namely in the form of his video logs, but it’s so much less concentrated in the book. Now you get the coles notes version of what he is doing and then you watch him do it. That was the big appeal for me.
Though the focus of the movie, and the book as well, are on Mark, I did enjoy the parts where his crew mates, NASA and other key players were shown trying to figure out just how to bring him back. It’s a huge undertaking and to see that being played out on the big screen, even if it was fictional, really put tings into perspective. Especially since NASA is currently working on sending a manned mission to Mars. Those people will be on their own, and if anything goes wrong, help is a long ways away.
While some of the details of the movie are a little fuzzy, I am writing this review a year after watching it, I have to say that I distinctly remember feeling such relief at the end, not because it was bad in any way, but because it had turned out so well. As the credits were rolling, my husband, son and I, all agreed that it was really well done, we left the theater feeling happy and well entertained. I feel like Hollywood got this one right. Yes, there were some things that were changed, and I accept those. Most importantly you didn’t have to have read the book prior to watching it to truly enjoy the film. My husband had not read the book, and likely never will because he’s not a reader (sad I know), but he was very pleased with the story as a whole. Sometimes when books are translated into the movie, you can tell when something is missing or where something major has been changed, even having not read the book you know there’s a big gap there, and none of us got that impression.
This movie is visually pleasing, fast paced (seriously it did not feel like we had sat there for two and a half hours) and gets your heart racing at times. It shows human spirit and ingenuity at it’s best, and that the desire to live, even when it appears that all hope is lost, is one of humanities strong points.This is a really solid Sci-Fi film and I’d highly recommend it, and the book, to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.