Friday, 13 November 2015

The Martian - book and film review

The Martian
By Andy Weir

This debut novel has just been released a a major film starring Matt Damon and the book is everywhere. That is usually a reason to avoid it but I have always been fascinated by space so it's bang on the money for holiday reading.

It's no deep literature but it is an engaging, if somewhat predictable, tale of disaster, endurance and ultimately survival against the odds in the same vein as Apollo 13, but based on a theoretical manned mission to Mars in the near future.

The plot is that a crew member gets left behind on Mars and has to adapt his surroundings, initially to survive till a rescue mission is possible but then in a desperate escape plan in which his crew return to pick him up.

There is just enough real science to keep the plot plausible in the make do and mend sense seen in Apollo 13, inspired by the authors lifelong fascination for space exploration. It's a real page turner if you are keen on the subject and it's easy to see it becoming a massive film.

As I said, no literary classic, little character development but heaps of plot. I liked it!

Continuing this theme, I went to see the film version with Dan the other day and having just read the book it made me super sensitive to and fast and loose with the plot line.

As it turned out the bulk of the film stays very true to the book, which is something of a novelty. Where bits were cut they were non essential which was ok.

However, and you know there had to be a however, the script writers did tinker with the end but not in a manner which spoiled the film.  In the book there is a somewhat outlandish plan conceived by our "just been rescued" hero to claw the final yards he needed to get to safety. In the book this was discounted but in the film the opportunity to show Watkins flying like a super hero was too much to resist, so in it went. 

Finally, and perhaps more interestingly, the book closes inside the space craft with the crew recoiling from the stink of their comrade who hadn't washed for about three months. In American blockbusters your hero is fresh faced and clean so we saw him having a good shave just before he blasts off. I can see why they did this but it did amuse us somewhat.

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