selenite0: (Beware the Engineer)
[personal profile] selenite0
The whole family went to see The Martian Thursday night. Great show. It got the heart of the story right. Alas, my favorite line didn't make the cut. People who pick up the book after seeing the movie still have many surprises awaiting them.

It could only have been better if we'd gotten to see trailers for upcoming SF movies instead of depressing award-bait.

Being me, I'm going to nit-pick some the tech and plot stuff. But since it's opening weekend, I'll hide the spoilers.

Translating from book to film always involves changes. Some using visuals instead of internal thoughts, some taking advantage of the medium, and a lot of compressing a long story into what can be shown in 2.5 hours. The Martian also bent some for the sake of giving stars the most dramatic moments.

The biggest change was cutting most of the disasters Watney faced in the book. I figure that was a combination of not having the time and not being able to explain the technical fixes to a general audience. They did a nice job of working around them so the book-readers could pretend all of those had still happened off-stage. For example, between starting drilling on the rover and arriving at the MAV, we never see Watney send a message to NASA.

The part I hated most was at the very end. The Iron Man option is joked about in the book, just a typical example of Watney lightening the mood at tense moments. The movie . . . actually had him cut his suit to fly around on the jet of escaping air. So first, he'd pass out in seconds. Second, it wouldn't produce much thrust since there's no nozzle. Third, he'd barely be able to aim it. Fourth, since he can't aim it through his center of mass he'd promptly go into a spin and go nowhere. Well, Hollywood had done lots of good physics up to then, I guess they had to burst out with some cinematic bullshit.

The real driver was likely to give Matt Damon a decisive action beat at the climax of the movie instead of being carried about like a sack of potatoes. Presumably Commander Lewis stepping forward to displace Vogel on the retrieval also reflects the relative star power of the actors.

The movie spent a lot of time showing NASA doing stuff to simulate Watney's situation, including drilling holes in a back-up rover. In the book Watney talked about that but putting it on screen was more effective.

A small example of the movie doing better was Watney's response to being told to watch his language when texting NASA. In the book he responded, "Look, boobies -> (.Y.)" The movie just showed all the controllers leaning back in shock followed by the Administrator apologizing to the President. Everyone's imagination concocted something much more offensive and effective that way.

The long shots of Mars scenery were gorgeous, and effective at demonstrating Watney's loneliness.

Alas, one of my favorite lines from the book didn't make it in:
Mitch shrugged. “But if I wasn't willing to take risks to save lives, I'd...” He thought for a moment. “Well, I guess I'd be you.”

Don't take my carping the wrong way. This is still a great, great movie.

EDIT: Something I forgot to mention originally. The movie added an epilogue with our heroes watching the Ares V launch. Tied up things nicely, including putting in follow-ups to some book bits that had been cut, such as the quid-pro-quo of having a Chinese astronaut on the mission and Beck and Johanssen pairing up. Watney's speech to the As-Cans was nicely done.

Date: 2015-10-04 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I saw it yesterday with another SF fan, Stuart Herring. He nitpicked afterward about using the blown-atmosphere trick to slow the HERMES.

I remember at some point in the cross-country trek murmuring to him "Oscar for cinematography, and maybe set design, too." It was also very well acted, but none of the parts had the bravura bits that catch the eyes of nominators in those categories.

I don't see a lot of movies, so I did not recognize many of the lead players; I had to go all the way back to PATRIOT GAMES to recall what Sean Bean looks like clean-shaven. It took me even longer to put names to Sebastian Stan and Chiwetel Egiofor.

There are copies of the movie-tie-in paperback edition at my Kroger store, and I'll be over there later today, and intend to buy the book and read it, now.

Date: 2015-10-05 02:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Presumably Commander Lewis stepping forward to displace Vogel on the retrieval also reflects the relative star power of the actors.

I don't think so--I think it was put in to provide closure to her story arc: making up for the guilt of leaving him behind. I can appreciate that from a story point of view, but it just made my problem with her character worse: you are a military commander! Your entire job is to make those tough decisions! I don't mind acknowledgement of the emotions behind those decisions, but I didn't particularly like that she endangered the rest of the crew in searching for Mark. As far as the movie goes: as commander, your job is also to stay behind and command while the EVA specialist does the thing he's trained to do!

So, yeah. Overall, not a bad movie, felt a wee bit rushed somehow and I wonder how it would have been to see it without having read the book first.

Date: 2015-10-05 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, that makes sense in a Kirk-with-the-landing-party way.

The kids hadn't read the book and they enjoyed it. Maggie's already finished the book. I've seen some comments on FB that other people are picking up the book after the movie.

Hmmm . . . The Martian is now #5 in the Kindle store. #3 in SF & Fantasy. #2 in SF. Because dystopian YA is apparently still more popular than the most popular hard SF ever.

Date: 2015-10-17 02:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I loved both the book and the movie.

I remembered remarking to my family: "Wasn't this a *lot* better than Interstellar?" They thought so pretty much unanimously.
Edited Date: 2015-10-17 02:22 pm (UTC)


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