Well, here we go again. Another movie adapted from a novel by the same name. The Martian was written by Andy Weir, and was a phenomenal success. One of our very own staff members, Jenny, turned us all onto this book and we fell in love with the survival story. We rooted for Mark Watney as he fiercely struggled to survive on the red planet all on his own. Then we heard that our new favorite book was being turned into a major motion picture starring Matt Damon...and we got scared. A few months ago we were fortunate enough to speak with the author, Andy Weir and ask him how he felt about his book being turned into a film (you can listen to that interview here). He was optimistic and positive about the whole experience. I went into the theater excited. I was hopeful. I was...not let down.
From the start of this film you're thrown right into the situation on Mars. There's a storm approaching the third manned mission to Mars and they need to abandon their mission very early. They trek towards their escape vessel but on the way, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets hit by flying debris and they lose him on their sensors. The Commander of the mission, Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) makes the impossible decision of having to leave him behind as their attempt to leave Mars is in jeopardy with this storm. Through some miracle, however, Watney survives, unbeknownst to his crew who has safely made it off the planet and were heading home.
The rest of this movie then revolves around Watney not giving in to his situation. He makes a science-y plan to survive and make contact with NASA. Back home on Earth, politics and science get in the way of this rescue. The decision of saving the entire crew of the Ares III (now flying on the HERMES, on their way back to Earth) or risking the entire crew to save one man. Is one man worth the lives of five others? The crew, really not questioning whatsoever, would do anything to get their man back, as the Commander is taking it very hard that they had to leave Watney behind. They can either send the HERMES back to Mars, or they can try to send supplies to Watney in anticipation of the next manned mission to Mars to rescue him, as it takes a very long time to get to Mars and prep for that mission takes equal time and precaution.
I have a hard time finding much wrong with this movie. Sure, I could be the obvious critic and talk about what was changed from the novel. But, I'm not going to do that today. I loved this movie. I had a lot of fun watching it and getting lost in this adventure. I knew the ending going into seeing this and STILL I was sweating out the most suspenseful moments. The person sitting next to me was literally on the edge of his seat...in a reclining seat! Damon really captures the character of Watney that I grew to care about while reading the book. His humor and wit were all present as well as his scientific arrogance that a person would need to travel through space and survive in the worst possible scenarios that even the smartest person couldn't imagine. You solve the problem or you die. You really feel the desperation of the moments. You really feel like each step could be his last he fights to survive just long enough to be rescued. The acting performances were great! From Matt Damon, down to Donald Glover's eccentric genius character, everyone was at the top of their games.
Overall, I can't say enough good things about this movie. Having read the book, you're always ready for a big let down (see Timeline). But I can honestly say that with The Martian, there was no let down. It wasn't until the end of the film that I started to think back about what was missing from the novel and it didn't bother my experience with the film. The pacing, the characters, the action, the suspense, all of it combines into a really fun movie experience. Don't take my word for it though, go see it and let us know what you thought!