Title: The Martian
Motion Picture Rating: PG13
Release Date: October 2015
Director: Ridley Scott
Production Co.: Twentieth Century Fox
Runtime: 144 min
My Rating: 4.5 stars
This is my first adaptation review and I am happy to be starting with the film The Martian, the adaptation of the novel written by Andy Weir. I’ve been meaning to do this with previous adaptations but never got around to it. I figure I’ll be more apt to do these after having written at least one. Also, I’m currently taking a class called Literature and Media where we analyze a source text and its adaptation, so I feel like I’m at least slightly qualified to review an adaptation.
I am a big fan of Weir’s novel and, as you’ve seen in my review, gave it five stars. I went into the movie with high expectations and was not disappointed. First of all, Ridley Scott directed it — what more incentive do you need to see this? And if you do need more, well, it’s a movie about space featuring Matt Damon. There. Now you have to be excited.
Speaking of Damon, the casting for this film was great. I saw the trailer for the film before ever reading the novel, so I pictured Mark Watney as Matt Damon while I read. This probably influenced my opinion on Damon’s performance, but nonetheless, I thought he was a great pick and did a fantastic job. Damon is a great actor and already had practice with a space-themed film (Interstellar). He embodied Wateny perfectly with his undying wit, clever sarcasm, and emotional expressions. The crew of Ares 3 were also brilliantly cast, especially Sebastian Stan as Beck (absolutely love him).
So like I said, I’m taking a class on adaptations, so I do know what an adaptation is. It’s not an exact rendition of the source text; it’s simply based on the source text and is up for interpretation. I went into The Martian knowing it wouldn’t be exactly like the book and I was okay with that. There were a couple scenes from the book that were changed or altered in the film, but I understood why this was done. However, towards the end of the film, they left out (in my opinion) a huge portion from the novel that I thought was necessary to appreciating the story. I will describe these scenes in detail shortly, but I don’t want to spoil anything for anybody. So, for those of you who don’t want to hear about these scenes, just know that even though this aspect really pissed me off, the film was still great and definitely worth seeing. I would, however, recommend reading the novel, because it gives you a lot more insight into Watney’s emotions and thoughts (obviously, because it’s a novel).
Now I will discuss those scenes which I previously mentioned, so spoiler alert: if you do not want to hear about certain scenes from the film/novel, do not read on.
Like I said, there are a few scenes that were changed for the film that I recognized, but they made sense. For instance, Watney was able to communicate with his crew through instant messenger in the film, but in the novel, he doesn’t get to speak to them until he’s being rescued. I know they did this for character development and to show the relationship between Watney and his crew, show some sympathy, and I understand why they did this — it didn’t bother me. There were a couple other minor things, such as Watney burning a wooden cross rather than his hair, things like that, but the major change was during his trip to Schiaparelli. In the novel, he encounters countless problems and obstacles. He drives straight into a huge storm and loses a lot of solar power. He ends up going completely out of the way to get out of this storm, only to slip and slide and roll his vehicle on its side. Watney’s drive isn’t a walk in the park — it’s dangerous and full of errors. In the film, they leave all of this out. In the film, his drive is long, yes, but uneventful. The film was already almost two and a half hours; adding these scenes would have increased the runtime a great deal. However, I think it’s necessary in understand what Watney went through and how close he was to dying. Maybe instead of adding a couple unnecessary scenes that weren’t in the novel, they could have added this. Another part that kind of upset me was when Watney was being rescued. Dr. Beck performs a tethered EVA to reach Watney in the novel; in the film, Commander Lewis is the one to save him. They did this because Lewis ‘left’ Watney on Mars, and now she was saving him. Like I keep saying, I understand why they do this, I just kind of hate it. So there, that’s my opinion on the film. Although I do have some complaints, I am satisfied.