Now that the movie adaptation of Andy Weirs breakout novel The Martian is out in theaters, I find myself asking myself whether it lives up to the hype. The answer for me is a resounding yes! For perhaps the first time since the Lord of the Rings adaptations I left the theater completely satisfied in the film adaptation of one of my favorite novels and – perhaps – even considering it the superior version.
If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, The Martian is about an human astronaut stranded on Mars (not really a spoiler, it happens on practically the first page). The most compelling aspect of both versions to me was the innovation and realistic practicality of the titular character as he “sciences the shit out of it” to survive. Left in a desperate situation with virtually no hope, our hero has only his own wits, training and endurance to survive.
However, while the film was almost religiously faithful to the books in its adaptation – with only one real plot point left out – the primary difference to me came in how the hero handles his isolation. When I first read the book, my only real complain was that Mark Whitney came across almost devoid of despair despite his truly fearsome circumstances. It took quite a bit of creative immersion to chalk his relentlessly chipper attitude in the face of certain doom up to his intense NASA training for just such an emergency and will to survive. In the movie adaptation, however, perhaps due to the capacity for subtle body language, acting and the inclusion of Whitney’s personal video logs as opposed to the written diary of the novel it seems that Whitney is much more aware of his situation, and while he never breaks down to true apathy the movie version of the character comes across as a more believable last-ditch quest to survive.
Either way, both the movie and the novel are fantastic. I highly recommend you at least see the film, although due to their similarity and the fact that the ending will come as no surprise to the reader if you have seen the movie already you can probably skip the book if you haven’t read it already, the movie adaptation is really that good.
5 / 5 Highly recommended.