The Martian: Book versus Movie

Surface of Mars

When I first heard about The Martian, I thought it was about the little grey aliens people imagine live on Mars. But I guess humans on Mars would be called Martians too, wouldn’t they?

Since the film has only been out for four months (compared to the book which has been around for five years), I will issue my general SPOILER ALERT WARNING. Just to be careful.

If you’ve read my past articles, you’ll probably remember my comments about comparing books and movies. Now I have to add that there are some exceptions to what I said there.

The Martian is one of them.

To be blunt, the book and the movie follow the same basic plot. I admit that with the setting, there aren’t many ways to change the story’s premise. Anyway, the plot was already great, so there was no need to change it. Yes, the movie had fewer scenes, but it’s a movie. Overall, I think Drew Goddard and Ridley Scott did a good job of not only boiling down the plot, but also capturing the spirit of the book.

Which leads me to my next point.

Duct tape is magical and should be worshipped. -Mark Watney

I don’t think that needs any explanation. Andy Weir is a humorous writer, and Watney’s comments about Aquaman and duct tape help to lighten the mood of the story.

Ridley Scott’s adaptation certainly captured the book’s spirit of humour too. I’m not alone in that thought. Which explains why the film won Golden Globe for Best Picture- Comedy. While it doesn’t have as many duct tape jokes, it certainly does play up Watney’s newfound hatred of disco.

In the case of keeping the science as real as possible, both the book and film score high. As a teenager who just completed another dose of the three sciences, I appreciated the pains Andy Weir and later Drew Goddard took to be accurate. Now I know that the cure to headaches is more oxygen. What a simple solution. Now I just need to find more oxygen.

There was, however, one place I think the movie tripped up.

Usually, I don’t care what race the characters are. I care about the story. However, in The Martian, I took some interest. The movie took pains to get the science accurate, and yet, why do they have a blonde acting a Korean part and a black acting an Indian part? I mean, how hard could it be to find racially correct actors? And if they really couldn’t, they could have just changed the characters’ names. They had already changed Venkat to Vincent. Why not complete the job?

It’s not really a big deal, but for a movie that prided itself in scientific accuracy, it’s sad it couldn’t even get the correct race.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. In fact, I would recommend both the book and the movie to anyone, most of all you. It’s fun to read, exciting to watch, and it’s funny all around. It won a Golden Globe for being funny.

But I don’t think duct tape should be worshipped.

One response to “The Martian: Book versus Movie”

  1. Love your opinions, keep on writing man, it’s fun to read.


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