“Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped”, said Mark Watney in Andy Weir’s novel. I’ve only completed as far as 64% of the novel, but that didn’t matter much as the movie just waded through what was left of it. The Martian being one of the most admired and anticipated movie of the year is in fact a fast forward of the novel. There are a host of YA, Dystopian, Sci-fi books out there, being converted into movies. Some of those deserve a watch, but when it comes to writing the screenplay, the job is easier said than done. A novel, probably of 300-400 pages being curbed to 2 hours of runtime is like hampering the growth and development of the film. Though it does not weave the intricacy and share the details, The Martian is a ‘go’.
If you havn’t watched the trailer, click Matt Damon’s face below:
I’m going to indulge in spoiling the story a bit for you. So, Ares 3 team land safely on Mars, as a part of NASA’s initiative. And the team receives a warning of an upcoming storm on Mars. Now, the Hab, where the team officially lives in, would tilt at 12.3 degrees and with limited available time they’d have to seek refuge in the Hab. But on the way back to it, Mark Watney gets hit by the antenna of one of the comms. He wakes up to see that his crew now, has long gone to return to planet Earth, along with Hermes gone and no communication to Earth. He ruminates about his viable options and draws out that he has to survive another 4 years on Mars alone till Ares 4 program team picks him up. With about 300 days food and a limited supply of water and Oxygen, he starts building up the resources. He works his way to get water: Use Hydrazine, a fuel, separate Hydrogen from it by lighting it on fire, convert Carbon dioxide to Oxygen through the Oxygenator, blow Oxygen and Hydrogen in a confined space and give birth to water, all with the chance of getting killed. Mark also becomes the first person to grow potatoes on Mars using his own shit. I know, isn’t science fun? So, now to communicate with NASA he gets the pathfinder, learns ASCII code language and using the imager on the pathfinder, he communicates with NASA. Mark survives through all the persistent and ‘Mars planning to kill him’ times and gets home safely. To reveal more about the movie, watch it for yourself.
Though the story is the dandiest, it majorly depends on the director, on how he wants to festoon the pomp. Ridley Scott needs no introduction, his films having run a good number on the box office. But that doesn’t make up for the shallowness of this movie in terms of details. They should have given more emphasis on succinctly elucidating how Watney did what he did. It just falls flat on the screenplay. But with a more elaborate runtime it could have crept into the minds who have tasted the blood of the novel. With such movies; 3D, cinematography and CGI have to be of top notch, and in this case, The Martian delivers it.
Mark Watney in the novel, was very real, pragmatic, convenient and quick with a joke. On the other hand Matt Damon’s zeal kind of keeps you committed to the big screen. As for seeing him in the skin of Watney is a little unconvincing, less empirical. Not that it’s the deficiency in his acting, but a pinned down runtime doesn’t give him the opportunity of being compatible with the character. A whole lot of stars of high caliber like Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor have starred in the movie, but their presence is very minimal, again the problem of having an average playtime.
The Final Word:
If you love Sci-fi movies, where the protagonist gets stranded on a planet for a shitload of 3 years, you’ll like The Martian. For those, who ranted about how bad the novel was because it had all kinds of calculations and was boring, watch the movie, you might end up liking it more than me. Apart from that, Matt Damon with all the above crew, and an adroit director Ridley Scott, it’s a must watch. But if you want to scavenge more about Mark’s bitter and lonely odyssey, then read the book.
It’s rare that, books-turned-movies work out with such elegance, but as short (that’s the flaw) as The Martian is, it deserves a 4/5.
“In your face, Neil Armstrong!”