Yesterday after I finished reading The Martian, I convinced my roomie and her fiancé to borrow the movie and watch it with me. If you haven't seen it or read the book yet, don't worry – there aren't any spoilers here.
So, first, I’d like to officially add The Martian to my list of Books That Actually Translated Well Into Movies. As always, there were cuts and changes, but most of them made sense for the different format. The screenwriting did a fantastic job of mimicking the same tone and suspense as the novel. The characters on the screen were faithful to how they were written* and the acting was superb.
The Martian, if you haven’t read or seen it yet, is like a MacGyver survival story set on Mars. But, thanks to the extensive research by author Andy Weir, readers almost feel like they’re reading a true-life biography of actual events. Weir’s a total nerd (as we SFF writers tend to be), and he doesn’t use magic science to get Watney out of trouble. The tension is real, people.
The book is so good I’m jealous. I love that Weir purposefully didn’t physically describe most of his characters. I mean, we get that Martinez is Mexican and Johanssen is small. The Chinese team is –duh– made up of Chinese people. Besides that, though, the author lets us fill in the blanks. I. Am. A. Fan. His character development is a thing worthy of praise, and his writing style carries you from beginning to end without letting you down. Weir mastered the cycle of things going well to things plummeting into hopelessness. I don’t want to spoil any of the plot, so I’ll just say it’s harrowing. HARROWINGLY AWESOME**.
Now it’s time for the book vs. movie spiel, which is going to be tricky if I don’t want to spoil anything for those people living under rocks. Hmm…I think the thing that stands out to me the most is the level of Oh Sh** that each of Watney’s problems presents. The movie needed to be quick – 2 hours and 24 minutes isn’t enough time to explore every single catastrophe. I think the action on the screen can get away with it because Matt Damon is brilliant and CG is crazy cool. BUT the book did a much better job of freaking me the heck out and making me certain I was reading a book that would kill the protagonist.
If you enjoy science-stuffed thrillers, I definitely recommend both the book and the movie. As for me, if anyone ever wants to put me in outer space, I will say Yes without hesitation.
Just make sure you send me with duct tape.
Things that make normal people afraid to go into outer space are things that make Michelle excited about it.
*even if “Venkat” became “Vincent”. I mean…1. Why change his first name? 2. Weir doesn’t give hair/eye/skin color for anyone in the book, so I can’t really complain that they switched an Indian guy for a black guy. 3. But still. Da heck was wrong with “Venkat”?
**It’s a thing.