The Martian: a review



I have been hearing positive buzz about this Ridley Scott film ever since its gala presentation at The Toronto International Film Festival. The Martian is based on a novel by Andy Weir. I had heard good things about the book on The Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. I was torn. Should I watch the movie first or read the book?

Because I am trying to read more (one of the many reasons I haven’t been blogging as much as before) the book won out. Both my husband and I really enjoyed the novel and were curious to see it translated to film. We saw it with our daughters (14 and 12 years old) on a Sunday matinee in 3D.

Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut and botanist, who is marooned on Mars.  He is given up for dead during an emergency evacuation from the planet surface on an aborted space mission. The movie tells the tale of his efforts to survive and return to earth.

The whole family enjoyed this film. I was pleasantly surprised as  I am pretty indifferent to both Matt Damon and Ridley Scott and often critical of movie adaptations of novels. The novel was adapted by Drew Goddard, whom I am a fan of. He was a writer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as other favourite shows (Angel, Alias, Lost) and Cabin in the Woods.

Visually, this was a spectacular film. Do you need to see it in 3D? Probably not, I chose to do so, primarily, because the showtime was more convenient. The action sequences were well paced and did not hijack the film. The dialogue was peppered with humour. The soundtrack of 70’s music was strangely apropos and a frequent source of comedy. This film had an impressive and diverse supporting cast (Michael Pena, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig). I enjoyed watching a smart guy using science and math in order to survive. Despite some disastrous setbacks, he perseveres, but for how long? Although I read the novel, I was still caught up in the suspense and emotion. The film was a reasonably faithful adaptation. Watching this story unfold on a big screen was a super fun ride.


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