Andy Weir's novel The Martian, was destined for the big screen. Weir published the book in 2014 but began work on the novel as early 2009, by studying orbital mechanics, astronomy and the history of manned space flight to make his story as realistic as possible.
Being burned by publishers before, Weir put his book online in serial format one chapter at a time. When he realized the novel's potential he created a .99 cent online full version of the novel which sold 35,000 copies! This not only got the attention of several major publishers, but also the attention of legendary director and producer, Sir Ridley Scott, who agreed to direct The Martian before it was officially published.
The Martian is a survivor's tale about astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars after a storm forced his crew to evacuate the planet. Watney was hit by a communications satellite that was ripped off its post in the high winds of the Martian storm. Due to low visibility, the crew couldn't find Watney and assumed he was dead. The crew made the tough decision to leave Watney behind, a decision made in haste before the whole crew would have been stranded by the storm themselves
Mark Watney awakes the next day alone on Mars. Forced with an impossible situation, to find a way to survive on Mars until help arrives, which could be years.
His solution is "to science the shit out of this."That line is Mark Watney in a nutshell. A botanist with genius level intellect that hasn't let his high-powered intellect dull his witty and sometimes goofy demeanor. In fact, Mark's humor is one of his greatest weapons in his fight for survival, helping him to keep a level heads down stay optimistic in one of the most dire situations conceivable. Not to mention the humor makes this horrible situation bearable to watch for the viewer.
I'm certain I'm not the first to make this comparison but the Martian really is like Apollo 13 meets Cast Away, with all the drama and excitement of both. Of course the Cast Away aspect is Watney's solo survival epic. The Apollo 13 aspect isn't just the fact that Watney and his crew are hit with a disaster in space, it's the fact that the world is fascinated with the crew's decision to return to Mars to save Watney, much like the work was captivated by the Apollo 13 disaster.
Having both read the book and watched the movie multiple times, I have to say I loved both immensely. The movie doesn't stray far from the book at all. Even Watney's humor and Commander Lewis's love for disco are prevalent in the book as well the movie. One minor change is the amount of attention given to Watney's early days on Mars and many of his major survival decisions, most of which take place before NASA discovers he's alive. Much of this is covered in a montage early in the movie ,while in the book, this portion of Watney's journey is a hefty portion, perhaps even a third of the book. At first this bothered me, but after a second watching of the movie, I realized that that Ridley Scott wanted to save more time for the rescue aspect of the story, which cinematically has the best quality.
While I hate Disco music as much as Mark Watney, it made a oddly great soundtrack to this movie. The Disco was primarily used with humor and it didn't hurt that there was a great montage featuring Starman by David Bowie thrown into the mix.
As far as the cast is concerned, it's one of the strongest aspects of this movie. Matt Damon kills it as Mark Watney and is buyable as a character who is as proficient with humor as he is with his "botany powers". Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean have a great dynamic as the NASA officials operating the mission from good old Earth. Last but not least the All-Star cast is further bolstered by Mark's fellow astronauts of the Ares 3 mission, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Alex Pena and Aksel Hennie. Lastly the filmed is directed by Sir Ridley who adds another great film to his long list of classics including Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator among many others.
The Martian is a film any cinephile or Sci-Fi aficionado can watch time and time again. It's original, fresh and hopefully it's critical and box office success will inspire others to make many more science fiction films with a realistic approach. Overall I'd say The Martian definitely earns its nomination for best picture, while it has a slim to moderate chance of winning the Oscar for best picture, I do believe it will win several awards for other categories.
That's my review for The Martian, what do you think?