So on Friday I went to see The Martian.
I was really looking forward to the movie because I loved the book. Plus Matt Damon. The book is on the harder side of SF and sometimes for me, all the endless explanations of every single detail of the science (or the weapons in thrillers/military) in hard SF come at the expense of emotion and action and get a bit mansplain-y. But in this case, using the conceit that Mark Watney is keeping a record of what he’s doing and the fact that Andy Weir has made Mark very engaging, it worked. I actually started listening to The Martian on audiobook and had to stop and buy the e-book as I couldn’t wait as long as it would take to listen to the audiobook to know what was going to happen. I’ve since gone back and listened to the audiobook again and I re-read the book last week before I saw the movie. So yes, I liked the book a lot.
Which also makes it somewhat daunting to go see the movie. So many movies ruin the books. The trailer looked promising but it’s hard to tell what’s really going to happen from a trailer.
But it turns out, the movie was pretty good. I thought it kept the spirit of the film pretty well and Matt was very well cast. I was a bit disappointed that it skimmed over a couple of the big complications that happen at the end of the book (could have shortened bits of the NASA stuff I think to get those in) and lightened up the science a bit in spots (mostly because this kind of lessened the impact of his achievement in solving each problem that came up) but I still really enjoyed it and was feeling nervous at the end (which is a good sign when you know the ending). And the imagery of Mars was gorgeous. I’m never going into space but seeing another planet would definitely be cool. Not so much being stranded on one alone! So all in all, two thumbs up to the movie but the book is still better. Possibly not a surprising verdict from a writer.
PS Very funny facebook meme pointed out that the US spends a lot of time and money in films rescuing Matt Damon…he’s made it into a genre lol (Saving Private Ryan, Interstellar and now The Martian).