I’ll probably always be one of those who is grateful for having read the book version of a movie before seeing the movie. Especially when the book is pretty awesome. There are typically so many more rich details, incredible intricacies, and interwoven themes that movies just don’t have time to include. Not even Peter Jackson can do it, and Lord knows he’s tried.
PS: Peter, please never stop trying.
For a book-turned-into-a-movie, Ridley Scott’s crew seemed to do a job-worth-case-studying by my unprofessional standards in capturing the essence of The Martian. So, yeah, I very much think it is well worth both the read and the view.
The script maintained the story’s essence in the beginning
It slightly sped up the already-quick start of the story, but not enough to worry about. Bam, astronuat Watley is in the shit storm.
The plot, not the CGI, told the story
As much as it was probably tempting to make the future look like it’s out of a 60’s sci-fi story, for the most part they kept everything looking natural. Even the time in Mars felt realistic and not too future-y. The explosions were there when needed, and not added in for super-sensationalistic 3-D effects.
There were no sensationalizing of characters. If anything, the characters were toned-down some.
They didn’t add a love interest for Watney to give him someone else to miss him. There were no risque relationships hammed up for drama. There were no over-the-top political crossroads. If they did anything with the script, they toned it down.
The director of NASA was even less of a bureaucrat. The love-story in the movie was only very slightly alluded to at the end. And, thankfully, no sappy, “I didn’t get to see Paris,” wishes were made up.
They kept the story clean. They kept the story true. They kept the story beautiful.
They used great devices to show time progressing
As said in the book reference, most of the book is taken from Watney’s logs, enhancing the drama at the end. For a movie, that would have probably sucked.
So while they still kept his log-times in, they used them as beginnings to sequences, and then acted out the logs in scenes. We got to see Watney planting his garden – with some high-speed film and well-chosen classical music – a great juxtaposition for the music to come. When Watney and NASA were both trying to work out construction solutions to get him him, they’d show Watney working on his equipment and then they’d show NASA trying to reconstruct the exact scenarios on earth at the same time in order to assist.
There were book scenes I wish they kept in
Without giving too much away, here were some things I wish they would have kept.
Watney shorts out his com device before his last great trip across Mars
In the book, he accidentally shorts it out while constructing his device. This means he didn’t know of the dramas going on down on Earth, leaving his journey to his pickup point a true act of faith. To me, that added a shitton of much-needed drama.
They took that out in the movie. I’m not sure why.
Watney has an accident before reaching his final destination
This didn’t make it in the cut we saw. I don’t know if they filmed it, but it was pretty crucial.
In the book, the “Iron Man” contingency was shot down numerous times.
In the book, Watney shouts for it because he doesn’t want his crew to risk anymore than they have. His commander shuts him down, numerous times.
There was a scene in the movie I wish they took out
Not to give anything away, but the book’s stopping point was swifter than the movie’s. You’ll just have to see it to see what I mean.
Why I loved The Martian so much
Because it reminds me of where society needs to go in order to continue to thrive, grow, and mature. In the aggregate, we’re typically pretty good at dreaming than achieving the dream. It’s been the foundation for discovery and innovation since an uncredited caveman decided to chip the edges off a square. From what we’ve dreamed lately, not only are we starting to believe there might be other civilizations out there, but if we don’t hurry up and catch up to ourselves, we could find ourselves obliterated because of another species’ plan to build a hyperspatial express route through our orbit, without us knowing, objecting, or having time to get out of the way (thank you, Douglas Adams).
More importantly, I’m starting to see the limits of discovery in my lifetime. When I was little, I thought we could reach Gallifrey, learn to travel through space, and see all sorts of incredible things. Now, before my time here is done, we might not be able to colonize the Moon, let alone Mars. Even worse, those with the funds are low on incentive to achieve such things. My heart breaks for few things anymore, but this not seeing us live beyond our little star would be painful.
So, I hope books / movies like The Martian help us to dream again, to grow beyond ourselves. To reach Gallifrey and beyond and realize how small the universe really can be. I hope my children, if we’re lucky enough to have them, would be able to experience such a world of possibility.
Only with such possibility would they be able to truly see what they can do.