I remember when I first head about The Martian. The novel by Andy Weir was gaining a lot of momentum in the book community and it felt as though everyone was reading it and talking about it. The hype surrounding it was huge which made me a little nervous to read it. I didn’t want to be disappointed, as that is usually a thing that tends to happen to me when something is over-hyped. What pushed me to finally give the book a shot was hearing that it was going to be turned into a film. I just so happen to be one of those people that hates seeing a film before they have read the novel it was based upon, so I figured that it would be a great time to finally read it, no matter if I turned out to be disappointed or not.
I personally found the novel difficult to read as it was extremely technical. Don’t get me wrong, I love science fiction and I love when things are explained in detail. I also especially love it when science fiction is accurate and realistic. My problem is that my brain can only handle so much science. I am definitely one of those “right-side-of-the-brain” people. My top subjects in school were always Art and English and subjects like Math and Science were my worst enemies. The Martian was so technical that I found it hard for my brain to understand what I was reading which made it slightly harder for me to enjoy the story. I noticed while reading reviews that there were a lot of people having the same problems as myself and that they suggested listening to the audio book instead. I had personally never listened to an audio book before and I had no idea how I was going to like it, but I figured why the hell not?
It worked. Listening to the audio book was fantastic. The narrator doesn’t just read the novel, he acts it out. It was honestly like listening to a movie. It definitely helped me to get through the novel and have fun while reading/listening to it. You can read about my whole experience with the audio book by clicking here.
For those who don’t know, The Martian tells the story of Mark Whatney, an astronaut that is accidentally left stranded on Mars after his crew mates mistakenly believe he is dead. He is then left to figure out how to survive while also figuring out how to make contact with NASA to let everyone know he is actually still alive while using his witty sarcastic humour to keep himself sane. All in all, the story is one hell of a nail biter.
At first, for whatever reason, I couldn’t picture Matt Damon as the dark humoured Mark Whatney. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I was completely and totally wrong. Matt Damon was perfect and I am now finding it hard to picture any other actor in the role. The dry humour of Mark Whatney was something that I considered very important within the novel and it needed to be included in this film in order for it to be successful for those who read the novel. Although, theere was much more of it within the novel, I think that it was executed well within the film by Matt Damon. The Martian was filled with a star-studded cast with everyone fitting into their parts perfectly. I must say, the casting director did one hell of a fine job. Stand out performances for me included Jeff Daniels as director of NASA Teddy Sanders, Chiwitel Ejifor as Vincent Kapoor and Donald Glover as the quirky Rich Purnell. Did you know that when he fell in the film that it was unscripted and actually happened? So great.
Now, with any book-to-film adaptation, I tend to feel a little worried. Things tend to go one of two ways: either the story stays true to the source material or it completely strays from it. I don’t know if that is just from personal experience, but there tends to be no in between. And then came The Martian. As I stated earlier, the book had such an incredible amount of detail that there is no way anyone could expect EVERYTHING that happens in that novel to be re-created for the film. It’s just impossible. It’s not so much leaving details out that bothers me (unless they’re super important), but it’s the changing of details that bothers me more. In this case, no key details were changed in a way that bothered me and I was okay with the details that were left out. Although, I did have a little bit of a scare when the trailer TRICKED US ALL by showing Mark Whatney looking at a photo of a woman and a child. Mark Whatney is a lone wolf in the novel and only mentions his parents back home on Earth, so when the trailer showed what seemed to be Mark missing a wife and child, I was a little peeved. Turns out that was all just some classic misdirection by whoever created the trailer (curse you) and they stayed true to the novel in the end.
A big part of the novel, hilariously, is Mark Whatney’s complete hatred of disco music as it is the only source of entertainment, other than a few old television shows, that were left behind by one of his crew mates. I think the film did a great job of keeping that element of the story alive, especially by using disco music as the primary soundtrack.
The Martian was extremely entertaining in both novel and film formats. The book was definitely packed with more detail, but the film did an amazing job in bringing this story and the world of Mars alive. I think both formats bring a different type of entertainment, but both are extremely successful. I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Martian being a top contender at the Oscars!
Also, long live duct tape!