I first read the book The Martian by Andy Weir a year ago when I saw the striking front cover in a train station book shop. I was instantly hooked into the sci-fi story which revolves around astronaut and botanist Mark Watney being stranded on Mars.
The book received great acclaim and became an instant best seller, picking up a film deal relatively quickly. The role of Mark Watney is taken on by Matt Damon, a role in which I believe he’s truly excelled.
Being such a huge fan of the book I was at first skeptical of the fact a film had been made. What I love about the book so much is Mark Watney’s wit and dry humour in the face of certain death. I love the extent of how solutions are so thoroughly thought out and meticulously calculated. In fact, the science fills out such a large part of the book that I had trouble imagining how it would translate into film.
The problem it turned out was both wonderfully simple and effective. The film uses narration of the video logs Mark Watney records over scenes of him working/applying whatever solution he’s come up with. These scenes also come quickly and often, giving the movie a great pace, which is an amazing achievement considering the fact at least 60% of the film has only one character in one setting.
The film is shot beautifully, giving a sense of full immersion and believability of both the setting and the characters. Almost every character was cast perfectly, and I especially liked Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character Venkat Kapoor. My only nit-pick with casting was the appearance of Childish Gambino at the end of the film, because although he’s a good actor, I don’t feel he really matched the character he played, and I was unable to think of him as anyone other that himself, which took away a bit of suspension.
The film is nearly 2:30 hours long but the time simply flies by and I didn’t feel bored at any time. The film was split into three distinct parts, all of which had a different type of anticipation and tension. The humour doesn’t over shadow the emotion of the subject either. I found myself tearing up at several parts where Watney’s isolation and loneliness on Mars really hit home.