“Everything’s Stayed North” (The Martian)

The Martian Poster
The poster for The Martian, with Matt Damon.

A little while ago, I wanted to read The Martian, by Andy Weir. It looked like a really cool book, and reviewed marvelously. Then, I forgot about it for around a year, until I was in the theater for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. That was when I saw the trailer for The Martian, by Andy Weir. I rushed to read the book, and fell in love with it. I finished it with about a month until the movie came out, and that month (September) was absurdly torturous. I couldn’t stand it. Then, it came out, and I saw it.

Mark Watney is one of six astronauts on the Ares III mission to Mars. Yeah, that officially makes him the 18th man to walk on Mars, but he’ll get to be first of something soon. When a sandstorm forces the crew to scrub the mission, Mark is hit with debris and is lost during the storm. Thinking him dead, the crew escapes with their lives. The next Sol, he wakes up in the martian sand, beaten but still alive. Even if he finds a to contact NASA (unlikely), he needs to wait four years for another mission to reach him (challenging), and he’ll need to stay alive for that time (near impossible). But somehow, he’s going to have to do it. If he does, he’ll be the first person to survive Mars.

First, I just want to say that book adaptions are a little tricky. I mean, they have a built in audience, but if you mess it up, the fans will start kicking down doors. Harry Potter was awesome, and the first two Hunger Games were great (I hated the last book, so I really have no interest in Mockingjay). All the others were pretty bad, or pretty average, unless I forgot something. So, I was waiting for some great sci-fi to take us out of the realm of the YA adaption. And, take us away it did! This was the perfect adaption.

"Everywhere I go, I'm the first."
“Everywhere I go, I’m the first.”

Sure, there’s obviously some nuance that you have to give up when adapting a 400 something page book into a two hour movie, but Ridley Scott did a phenomenal job. Did I mention that the guy who did Alien is the guy who did The Martian? Because that’s pretty cool. Switching gears, Matt Damon absolutely carries this movie. No, he dosen’t carry it. Scratch that. He picks it up, swings it around, and then lobs it straight at the sun. (In a good way). The movie as a whole didn’t need to be thrown at the sun, but Matt Damon does it anyway. Throughout the entire thing, the acting is top notch, because it has to be. Acting was one possible hole that needed to be plugged, and it certainly was.

You know what’s as important as Matt Damon making me compelled? Matt Damon making me laugh. And, yeah, I know, most of the jokes were Andy Weir’s (the original author), but I’m still glad that they’re all intact in the movie adaption. Seriously, it’s so much fun to hear an entire movie theater laughing together. Never gets old. On top of that, the movie looks breathtaking. I’ve never seen a more beautiful rendition of the Red Planet, and the scenes in space dealing with the Hermes are gorgeous.

There were a few differences throughout, though. Practically everything on the drive to Ares IV was glossed over, like the second sandstorm, and the time the rover flipped. Also, they left out the time Watney turned the HAB into a hydrogen bomb. I was kind of disappointed, but as I said above, not everything could have made the final cut. What I said up there is barely a complaint. What they really captured was the feeling, though. Ridley Scott got that perfect. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t tell you about specific scenes in the movie, but Mark Watney is the perfect hero. He’s not trying to save anyone, just himself, and he’s sure he’ll die right up until the end. Even when everything goes south, he still gets up, and fights for his life, and solves each problem as they come. Watney is a guy you can root for until the credits come up, and the entire theater is cheering.

Dead Crop (The Martian)
Not even NASA can improve on duct-tape.

Ultimately, I had bundles of fun with The Martian, and I didn’t want it to end. Sure, a couple things were different, but the movie was so near perfect before that I really can’t complain. Matt Damon is the perfect pick for Mark Watney, and everyone else is just as good in their roles as he is. Sure, Damon carries the movie because it’s just him for 60% of it, but everyone else has to do important things as well, and the stellar portrays make the whole thing that much more real. The excellent sci-fi is still there, and it (sorta) tricked my sister into reading hard sci-fi. And the most important thing: did it make me laugh? Yeah, it did. I laughed out loud.

The Martian is the perfect package. It’s a stunningly beautiful sci-fi experience, with an amazing cast of characters that you are instantly attached to. The thrills don’t stop, and neither do the jokes. It’s a testament to Andy Wier and Ridley Scott’s skills that they can make me laugh when the main character is facing certain death at every turn. And that’s what’s so special about Watney, I think. He thinks he’s going to die, and that he has no chance, but he only has a limited time on Mars, and he’s going to go down enjoying every moment. That’s the way you’re supposed to watch The Martian. You only have a limited time in the theater, and you should savor every moment.

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