The Martian: One of the few times I think the movie might end up better than the book

The Martian coverThis week I finished reading The Martian, Andy Weir’s best-selling novel about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars and uses his scientific knowledge in innovative ways to try to survive.

The book is a fun read–though light on human emotion and heavy on the science. Reading the author’s bio this science-over emotion makes sense since his background is as a scientist, not an artist or writer. There’s minimal time spent on the loneliness or terror the character (presumably?) feels, and more time spent on the chemical reactions he created to be able to make water. Despite it driving me to try to remember chemistry lessons at times, it really was gripping and worth the time to read.

In November of 2015, a film adaptation of the book directed by Ridley Scott starring Matt Damon will be released. Usually, books adapted into movies fall short for fans, unless the filmmakers do something that emphasizes the cinematic form. Films that try to be like the book will always fail, in my opinion. But, films that do something that augments the best aspects of the book by doing something that the printed word can’t–utilizing sound, color, and editing instead of words for exposition and mood–I can appreciate as a separate piece of art.

This book, however, is one that I feel will actually be better experienced as a film no matter how it’s rendered (unless there’s a weighty voice over narrative that explains all the chemistry dilemmas and calculations). It likely won’t be brooding and quiet like Gravity, but we’ll see what direction Scott takes it.


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