The Martian Review

I wrote last week on the Psychology of The Martian, and have finally got around to seeing the film, so I thought that I would do a quick review of it and how I think that it compares to the book.

I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but there may be some slight spoilers throughout The Martian review, but I will try to keep them as minimal as possible. Now, I’m just throwing it out there, but the timing of the release of The Martian and the release of the NASA information that there is water on Mars was exceptionally close, like almost too close…but Hollywood wouldn’t have that much power over the US government, would they..?

The Martian is billed as a survival-science fiction film, however the science ‘fiction’ part isn’t necessarily the best description. Andy Weir, the author of the book the film is based on, has stated that he has made all attempts to ensure that there is scientific accuracy in the story to the point that he worked with NASA, who also state that the science in the book is sound. So whilst it may be a fictional story, the science in based on hard science, rather than on soft, theoretical science.

Having read the book before the film, there was a little less tension due to knowing the outcomes of each of the events, but there was still plenty of excitement throughout the film.

It was beautifully shot, especially the wide shots of the Martian scenery, shot in Jordan apparently. In terms of cinematography, there were a few things that annoyed me, one being the written messages that were typed between Watney and the teams on Earth, there was a lot of jumping between seeing the words typed on the screen and then the character reading the sameĀ messageĀ again out loud. In the Earth scenes that rely mostly on dialogue and science, this effect reminded me a lot of your middle aged aunt reading her emails out loud while she types with two fingers. It’s laborious and treats the viewer like a fool – I feel like they would have been better to commit to either one or the other, but not both.

There were a few departures from the book such as the main rover trip being cut significantly short, however this would have meant that the movie ran even longer. At almost two and a half hours, this is a long rescue mission there are no subplots explored, just getting Watney off Mars, and it does drag a little.

My last criticism is that the casting seems to rely on a lot of stereotypes especially that of the socially inept intelligent person. Several of the NASA characters are painted this way, and it seems that anyone ‘normal’ is the exception rather than the rule. I have never been to NASA, but worked with intelligent people and there is no connection between level of intelligence and level of social ability. The scenes with Rich Purnell are almost cringe worthy, who is shown as some sort of recluse with incredible intelligence, but the inability to act appropriately (or walk – ha, a falling gag!).

Despite the criticism, the Martian was a great movie with awesome scenery and a mix of humour, action and intelligence. Matt Damon did an awesome job as the eponymous character and really expressed the emotion required for the role without ever overacting it.

Have you seen the Martian, what were your thoughts?

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