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.