Recent Viewing: The Martian

Well, I hardly remember the last time I went to the actual theater to see a movie. Hmm. The second Hobbit movie? I think that might have been it.

But . . . The Martian! It’s got all the scenery! So, yep, theater. Some notes about theaters:

1. People eating popcorn behind you are annoying. Even though I know this is a perfectly normal activity in a movie theater.

2. Given a wide open theater, someone will nevertheless decide to sit right in front of you. Why is that?

3. They sure show a lot of trailers before the actual movie, don’t they? I think at least six. The only one I remember the name of was Crimson Peak, which looked like absolutely not my thing because I really don’t like horror movies. You know, I really didn’t think a single one of the trailers actually looked like it’d be a movie I would want to see? That might be a first.

Okay, but! The Martian!

Really good job. They left out three disasters, I think. I’m re-reading the book now and I think it was three. But hey, trying to cram all that into just 2.25 hours is quite a trick. Stuff that I particularly noticed:

They started fast. This was a great decision. Let’s see, who was the director? Oh, Ridley Scott, Google tells me. Well, good job. It would have been thoroughly provoking if we’d had to sit through some kind of huge long prologue thing or a voice-over infodump or whatever. Nope. Right into the accident that stranded Mark, probably within the first minute of the movie.

They stuck to the book very nicely, even if they did leave out some of the disasters. I noticed even at the time (and now that I’m re-reading it’s even more obvious) that a ton of the dialogue and writing was conserved in the movie.

Good job with the NASA folks and the other people back home on Earth. There were some minor differences about how a couple of details were handled, but in fact I thought the movie’s tweaks were improvements on the book — at least the one I particularly noticed. It had to do with a particular interaction between Mitch and Teddy. Okay, and Rich Purcell was a really fun character. Lessee, all right, looks like he was played by Donald Glover (I don’t know actors hardly at all, so I have to look these things up).

They changed Venkat Kapoor’s name to Vincent Kapoor. I think that was a good idea, actually. On the page, Venkat is fine, but if you’re going to hear it, it’ll confuse the American ear and be distracting.

Good job with the Hermes crew. The tricks with the gravity looked persuasive to me.

Now: how does the movie actually compare to the book? Well, the book is better. I know, shocker, right? But for *me*, the book is better because I really did enjoy all the technological explanations in the book. Why did the airlock blow off the Hab? The book tells you why. In the movie, it just looks like a random disaster thrown in because the director just thought, Hey, let’s have a disaster. It’s true that I am just skimming some of the technical details on this re-read, but I am reading most of them and enjoying the extra depth of understanding. I could see that some people probably are enjoying the movie more because they honestly don’t care about the engineering and stuff.

Big question: so, could this movie be a big enough hit to kind of nudge the country back into an interest in space? Probably not, I guess, but we can hope…

Update: Here’s an interview with Andy Weir about the book and movie, over at a site called Curriculum Matters. I can totally see teachers of all kinds grabbing The Martian and using it to guide classroom assignments.

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7 thoughts on “Recent Viewing: The Martian”

  1. I’m with you on horror. But my reaction to the Crimson Peak trailer was “You married Loki! What did you think was going to happen?”

    Donald Glover’s biggest previous role was on the TV show Community, which is worth checking out. (He also has a musical career under another name, which I know nothing about.)

  2. Oh, wait, Loki? I’m so bad at recognizing actors, I didn’t realize. Shoot, that *is* a fraught situation.

    I’m sure “Community” is worth checking out, but I almost certainly won’t. Every now and then I pick up a season or so of some tv series on DVD, but they can and do sit on a shelf for years without even having the plastic removed.

  3. I liked THE MARTIAN a lot, and thought pretty much all the changes (one significant exception) were good, including all the cuts. Of course the book is better, but it’s a good movie and a good adaptation of a book with quite a bit of material that you just can’t get across on screen.

    I particularly appreciated the way they geeked up the secret NASA conference with Tolkien references, even if it may have been pandering to their audience.

  4. I’m almost sure the Elrond thing was in fact in the book, though I don’t think they took every bit of dialogue in that scene from the book.

    You’ll have to tell me sometime which change you didn’t approve of. Now that I’ve finished re-reading the book, I see they did change some things about the actual rescue scene, and I might call the way they did that pandering to their audience, though I thought it was okay.

  5. We saw it last night in a practically empty theater (4:45 pm show). No one sat in front of us. :-). Liked it very much – Damon carried it well. The Husband cringed in a couple places, especially Donald Glover’s character with his laptop plugged into the supercomputer. He started his career at NASA in astrophysics. (Worked w/supercomputers, knows what they can do & what laptops can do and what is needed for those calculations. and cringed.) The other was the cheering at mission control during work. They wouldn’t be cheering they’d be working, quoth he. Still for movie purposes I don’t mind.
    Oh, and the Watney as Ironman. Wouldn’t be controllable.

    I haven’t read the book yet, but he says the Elrond stuff is in the book. One of the actors in the scene played Boromir in the movies, too, which adds a bit more fun to it. I don’t recall if he was the one who said if it was the Council he wanted to be Glorfindel, though. I had trouble keeping Mitch, the one who kept wanting to tell the crew, tell Mark, etc., differentiated from Teddy, the head of NASA. One of them said it, though.
    And Bucky’s actor from Cap. America was one of the crew.

    I will eventually read the book.

    Mostly when we actually go to movies in theaters the previews make us all say; No, not going to see that one. Crimson Peak actually got my attention – that was great exterior haunted house. The rest – meh.

  6. Teddy was the one who name-dropped Glorfindel; I actually thought that was a clever way of telling the geeks in the audience he’s One of Us.

    I was half-expecting Sean Bean/Mitch to start a sentence with “one does not simply…” during the scene, but perhaps it would have been a bridge too far.

  7. Luckily I don’t know anything about supercomputers and laptops and connecting one to the other, so that didn’t bother me a bit. And FINE, if you all insist the Iron Man thing wouldn’t work, I guess maybe it wouldn’t. It looked okay to me.

    I most of all regret losing the dust storm, but I guess that it would not be cinematically exciting.

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