THE MARTIAN

Andy Weir’s book THE MARTIAN, is one of my favourite books of all time, it is this superb “trapped/ survival” story set on Mars with an astronaut, missing, thought dead and due to emergency evacuation, left behind. Unfortunately he is not dead and so begins one of the biggest survival stories ever written that involves not only one guy trapped alone on a planet years from help but also the entire planet and the people that mount the biggest rescue mission of all time. Ridley Scott has now made the movie version of Weir’s book starring a phenomenal cast and it is close to the book in its brilliance but a softer, more humorous family-friendly version that will make squillions. It is out now, it is rated M and it runs for 141 edge of your seat minutes. 

 

martian art movie poster image
THE MARTIAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

This would be the best movie made of the red planet and also the best science fiction action movie in years, do not get me wrong, INTERSTELLAR is one of my all time favourite movies, but it is more art-house science fiction where you have to think, THE MARTIAN requires a tiny bit of thinking but not much, and the movie endeavours to adhere to scientific principal to make it as realistic as possible, Weir consulted with NASA and everyone sciency for accuracy, and the movie maintains it excluding the start, Weir needed a way for Watney to be trapped on the planet so they had the storm, something scientifically inaccurate on Mars. Atmospheric pressure of Mars is about 1% that of the Earth’s. This means the air on Mars is simply too thin for the wind to carry much force or do any damage, Jim Greene, NASA’s planetary science director, told The New York Times. “If standing on Mars, a 100 mph wind would feel like someone was throwing a bag of feathers at you,” Jim Bell, a scientist who works with NASA’s Mars rovers, told Forbes. But hey, it is science fiction and we haven’t actually been there yet so let’s go with it for artistic drama.

 

the martian movie image
THE MARTIAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MARS MISSION CREW

 

Firstly, what I love:

The cast: every single character is superbly chosen, and what a huge cast. Damon pulled off Watney brilliantly, although the character is much more G rated than in the book and while Watney goes through abundant disasters in the movie, they are but a fraction of what happens in the book and we never really saw Damon/ Watney broken. Chastain, Pēna, Stan, Hennie, Mara were all great crew mates and having the understated strength of Chastain as the commander was a great stroke in casting.

I loved seeing Sean Bean in a role he wasn’t killed in and he played the older science mission controller really well, it was a small part but you automatically feel for him, I also took notice of Mackenzie Davis, I just liked her and her character in mission control. Chiwetel Ejiofor can do no wrong for me and while Wiig would never have been my first choice for this smaller role she was great.

Then there is Jeff Daniels, a brilliantly serious dead pan head of NASA. It was great seeing him back in his NEWSROOM styled character and I wanted more of his character but this is about a guy trapped on Mars.

 

the martian movie image
THE MARTIAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MARK WATNEY (MATT DAMON) WITH HIS BOTANICAL SPUDS

 

The cinematography is also remarkable on every level, this movie looks freaking awesome! It is shot from DOP legend Dariusz Wolski who has shot everything from the original THE CROW in 1994 to all the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies, DARK CITY, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PROMETHEUS and the upcoming THE WALK. This guy makes movies look good! The film is shot in 3D and the director intended it to be seen that way and I recommend it – it is painless and adds some great depth of field effects. The upcoming THE WALK he also shot in 3D and it is being applauded as the best 3D movie of all time, I BLOODY LOVE 3D and THE MARTIAN embraces it. Pay the extra few bucks and see it on the biggest screen you can find in 3D.

 

THE MARTIAN MOVIE IMAGE
THE MARTIAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MARK WATNEY (MATT DAMON) WITH THE ROVER

 

Now, the film is very Hollywood, it went for a PG13 in the U.S. and as such Disneyed it up (even though made by another distributor we do not mention on Salty). Even the word’s “fuck” are all silenced in some way, they even discuss it in the movie, at first it was quite humorous but then it got annoying. They also never broke down Watney, sure he went through hell, and you saw him get skinny, you saw him punch the roof of a rover and send his last wishes to people should he die but you never see Watney destroyed, there is one glimpse of it near the last act but I wanted more, the character demanded more.

Then there is the differences from the book, and there many, more omittances than differences.

MILD SPOILER ALERT

  1. For growing his spuds, Watney has to drain the hab of oxygen so the air won’t ignite, and turn down the temp so he doesn’t kill soil bacteria that grows the spuds, in the movie this is just skipped but the hab’s demise is quite impressive and then ended with some humour, loved the smoking shirt.
  2. The airlock disaster is so quickly overlooked and resolved that I was a bit disheartened, in the book it is a massive effort of Watney trying to stay alive with duct tape and a one armed spacesuit but in the book it is resolved in a couple of minutes.
  3. In the movie the water reclaimer NEVER EVEN BREAKS!! This underplayed the control of NASA on him in the movie and made Watney more agreeable and less Maverick, this annoyed me.
  4. PATHFINDER is never destroyed – again something that made Watney’s movie journey much cushier as he always had comms with Earth.
  5. And the end of Watney’s Mars road trip is the biggest thing that pissed me off, his journey is easy sailing, he experiences not one issue on his journey in the movie. There is no horrendous dust storm to delay him and the end, his final leg had no shale and no rolling of the rover, like WTF guys!!

 

the martian movie image
THE MARTIAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | THE ROVER

 

I appreciate why they lessened a lot of the items from the book, if I had not read the book I would probably worship this movie but the book is a work of brilliance. It does remain quite accurate on plot points unlike THE MAZE RUNNER movies that just seem to make up their own plot as they go along. The film was already at 2hrs 21mins, preferably I would have liked it to be a 3hr work of book copying page for page genius but the movie had a cast that needed screen time and the movie did want to concentrate on the last act involving the Hermes (the space ship) and I will say I nearly forgave everything with the closing act, I was holding my breath, on the edge of my seat and an emotional wreck and I knew what would happen haha.

While disappointed they removed a lot from the story they did pay the book a lot of respect, I will purchase this on 3D Blu Ray when released and will be happy to view it once a year, Ridley did good, for me, his best movie since BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001), much better than that PROMETHEUS crap haha.

 

4 Pops

 

 

Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).