Of course, I have to urge you to read the book by Andy Weir because it is a wonderfully fulfilling read, but this film version starring Matt Damon captured the essence of the book very well.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story line, Mark Watney is left behind by his crew mates during a mission on Mars. Not to Mars. On Mars. A storm blows in, they must flee the surface, he gets separated from them, they believe he died, they blast off, and the story ensues.
The movie nailed the characters in this adaptation. The book has no villain. It is literally everyone doing their best to keep Watney alive and bring him home. Everyone is a decent person; everyone wants to do their job well. Refreshing, right? The movie succeeded in casting very likable actors to play these roles, and Matt Damon plays the most likable of them all – Watney.
The film’s only shortcoming is that it didn’t even scratch the surface of the actual math and science described in the book. Watney calculates every thing he does in the book and runs the reader through those calculations and experiments. The movie did not have the time nor the audience’s likely attention span to delve quite so deeply. It also left out some pivotal moments in the book, but again, few movies are able to achieve a page-for-page adaptation.
The movie exceeded my own imagination in depicting Mars’ barren landscape. It also somehow managed to make a two and a half hour film move incredibly quickly and execute one exciting scene after another. Finally, Watney survives months and months alone on an inhospitable planet largely because of his positive personality and fun sense of humor. Damon definitely delivered on the Watney readers love.
This is certainly one of my favorite movies of the year. Not surprisingly, I’ll ask you to read the book first, but other than leaving out some important aspects of the source material, the film pleases on every level.