The Martian is space porn and landscape porn at its best. Normally I’d never say this, but do yourself a favor and see it in 3D. Regular post-process conversion 3D movies are a guaranteed headache for me and the jerkiness drives me nuts. The Martian was filmed with RED 3D cameras and it’s seamless.
Matt Damon’s performance as Mark Watney is spot-on. He brings both gravitas and wry humor to the role. The movie does give us displays of emotion that Watney’s journal omits in the book, and Damon nails these short bursts of hopelessness.
The rest of the cast does an excellent job of interpreting their roles, however I do have a few gripes about other casting choices and character changes.
Kristen Wiig could have given a powerful performance as Annie Montrose, but the script edits cut off the firecracker PR guru’s balls. Her role in the story is lost, and she seems on the verge of tears in every scene.
Jessica Chastain seems like an odd choice for the tough Commander Lewis. Her honeyed voice, sweet smile and uber-feminine appearance and body language irked me for someone who’s meant to be a no-nonsense military commander. I felt like another opportunity was missed to cast a less “Hollywood” actor.
Overall the movie is mostly faithful to the book, though it does take some liberties. Viewers who did not read the book may enjoy the movie a little more than those of us who went in knowing how much more meat there is to Mark Watney’s story.
Unlike the book, the focus of the movie is really on how to get Watney home, rather than on his convoluted methods of survival on a hostile planet. This means producers had to edit out most of Watney’s journal entries and scientific breakthroughs, and they even cut a few dramatic events. There is no other way to fit the book into an exciting 2-hour thriller, but as a consequence Watney’s brilliance is underemphasized.
The Martian has all the thrill of a summer blockbuster with the brains of a science channel documentary, scientific inaccuracies aside. The movie will get your heart pumping and pique your brain cells. This is high-level entertainment. I highly recommend it to all science, sci-fi and movie lovers. Now go read the book.
Watch the new trailer for The Martian by Ellen DeGeneres here: