Now I know what you are probably thinking, there are probably hundreds of reviews out there of the film and just as many of the book. However, I’m going to take things a bit differently here. You are going to get three reviews for the price of one!
Last summer I acquired an Audible edition of the novel, wanting to read it before the movie came out. Since that time, I have listened to it twice, read portions of the book, and watched the movie both on the big screen and at home numerous times.
Be Warned, Minor Spoilers Ahead
To start off, in The Martian Weir has written what I think has to be one of the best hard science based Sci-Fi stories I have ever read. The story is compelling as you really feel what Mark Watney is going through. The science is great as you can almost see the thought processes as Mark works the problem as each hinderance to his continued survival crops up. Sure the way it is written his language is a bit on the rough side. But even that seems to be reasonable and in character. (You know that if Robinson Cursoe had been an actual person that period appropriate swears would have been uttered at times)
The only really bad piece of science in the book is something the author even admits to knowing was bad. The dust storm would not have forced an evacuation for the reason given. The Martian atmosphere is too thin to blow over their vehicle. But it was a needed twisting of fact to justify the protagonist getting left behind.
I would highly recommend you pickup the book if you haven’t read it, even if you’ve seen the movie there are enough differences to still make the book enjoyable.
Now as I said earlier, I first listened to the book as an audiobook from Audible. This edition was narrated by R. C. Bray, I had not heard this particular narrator before but he has a great voice and did wonders in bringing this primarily first person story to life.
Oh yeah, since a large portion of the book is done as if it is log entries by Watney on Mars much is in first person.
Anyway, back to the audiobook. The narration was wonderful and the audio quality was excellent. If audiobooks are your preferred means of consuming literature, or if you have a long commute or a big trip coming up. The Podium produced audiobook is worth picking up. I re-listened to my copy a couple of months ago when I did a solo road trip to visit my brother at school.
Finally the movie.
To begin with I have to say the cinematography was amazing. They did an excellent job of putting together a visually stunning film. Set design was wonderful, costumes were incredibly realistic. The location chosen for shooting the exterior sequences was believably made to look Martian.
The acting was excellent, Matt Damon hit it out of the park in what was for large portions of the film a one man show. Essentially a long running monologue. The last time I recall seeing such a good job done in similar circumstances was Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
The supporting cast did very well in brining life to the characters, even those with smaller parts to play.
Now as is always the case when a book is adapted to film there are changes made. Bits cut, material added, etc. I my opinion this is one of the best adaptations I have seen. In general the material which was cut wasn’t vital for the telling of the story, very little if anything new was added. There were some places where things were adjusted, for example in the movie when Watney asks the mission commander Lewis to talk to his folks if he didn’t make it in the book that request was made to Martinez.
There were some changes that I don’t think we’re needed, for example the name and background changes to the Director of Mars operations. That said it was handled well.
One problem that they ran across in the adaptation was the language. In order to squeak in with a PG-13 they had to severely curtail Mark’s language. Through the film you could see them pushing the edge as much as they could get away with in order to preserve the spirit of the book.
If you haven’t seen The Martian as a movie it is definitely work the rental.
So to some this all up.
The Martian is great, be it in book, audiobook, or feature-length movie. Watch it, listen to it, read it; I’m sure you will enjoy it.