The Martian Delivers Humor and Accuracy
The movie is based on Andy Weir’s best-selling novel of the same name, and follows Mark Watney who is left unintentionally stranded on Mars after a violent sandstorm whips up. The crew (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Aksel Hennie) believe he is dead. Not wanting to also perish, the crew evacuates the Red Planet and head back to Hermes where they wait to return to Earth.
While very much alive but roughed up, Watney starts his goal of not dying on Mars (Matt Damon never dies) while the rest of the world’s goal is to get him home safe. Watney is stranded 140 million miles away from home with a limited supply of food.
Lucky for Watney, he is the botanist in the crew, which helps him grow potatoes on a planet in which nothing grows and allows him to make water with the oxygenator in the Hab. This makes his jokes about how he is the greatest botanist on the planet even more charming.
Directed by Ridley Scott, the movie does a phenomenal job of showing each character doing their job beautifully. Sure, there’s a lot of lone castaway movies such as Castaway or Gravity, but what’s so great about The Martian is that thanks to the beautiful writing of Drew Goddard, the audience gets to actually experience what it could feel like to be stranded on Mars. Many of us can hardly fathom the idea of being stuck on an isolated island, let alone on a different planet which we still know little about.
A majority of the dialogue, as well as the technical science, came straight from the book. The dialogue includes Watney's witty, sarcastic, and foul-mouthed humor that readers of the novel enjoyed. The humor is key in preventing the tension of the story from overtaking the movie (the book is even funnier).
However, there are a few disappointing parts of the movie. In the novel, Watney faces more difficult challenges, which result in more detailed and fleshed out solutions. For example, there is a scene where Venkat Kapoor (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) curiously wanders through Watney’s state of mind after they find out that he is not dead. In this scene, we hilariously see Watney go mad about the illogical nature of Aquaman’s power (the points he make are not far off).
We also don’t see things go wrong nearly as much as they should have. The Hab blows up a couple times which they do portray in the film, as well as the crops dying, but in the novel the rover flipped over when Watney drove down a crumpling ramp. Also, a dust storm kicked up and he had to drive through it to the Ares 4 landing site. There was even one time when Watney lost all communication with NASA.
Without these obstacles, we missed a great chunk of Watney’s genius innovations. Sure, we get to see Matt Damon play Iron Man for a bit, which doesn’t particularly fall through in the book, so I guess it’s okay, but Professor Watney? Watney ends the movie by lecturing a class about surviving a desolate planet. This doesn’t happen in the novel, and I found it frustrating to add another scene solely for more dialogue.
Turning science and problem solving into an edge-of-your seat experience, Ridley Scott’s The Martian has become a top movie to see this October. Especially since Matt Damon is great. Really great.