Friday, October 2, 2015

The Martian -- A Book/Movie Review/Comparison( Major Spoiler Alert!!)

Major Spoiler Alert  -- Major Spoiler Alert _--- Major Spoiler Alert--- Major Spoiler Alert

(I have been busy this summer and I do have some pictures and information about some bookstores I visited during the summer. And I will be blogging about them in the coming weeks.  But I did mention that I would discuss books too in this blog, because, after all, you would not have bookstores without books! )

This week I did something I have never done in the past.  I finished reading a book the day I saw the "Major Motion Picture".   

Now, I have had The Martian sitting in my Kindle  for probably 6 - 12 months and had not gotten around to reading it yet, although I had noticed that it had great reviews and there was motion picture in development -- and I like science fiction.  But truthfully, I wasn't in a Science Fiction mood.  I have been reading a lot of  fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal.   Some good  -- many not so good. With the movie coming out and the great reviews -- I figured it was time. 

The book is extremely science oriented and the science actually seemed right on the money.   Since I am a veterinarian and majored in biomedical science, I could understand quite a bit of it, although, much of the physics and calculations went over my head.  The chemistry was a little daunting too. The botany part was great -- living science is more up my alley and I completely understood what he was trying to do.  

In the book they mention that Watney has both an engineering degree and  a degree in botany, which helped explain how one person could know so much about such varied sciences.   I did not pick that up in the movie but they did not go into as much detail into  all the calculations and physics in the movie either.  In the movie they made it look far easier to get the probe set up for communication and then NASA and all the science geeks at NASA and JPL were there to help figure things out.  This seemed to occur fairly quickly in the movie -- not so quickly in the book.   

I did enjoy how he was able to perform calculations and figure out so many things on his own while dealing with the oxygen and water reclamation issues in the book, but I understand how that would have slowed the movie down which was still over two hours long. I do wish that in the movie they would have gone into more detail on how complicated it was to grow the potatoes -- but I guess the fact that he nearly blew himself up in the movie while trying to make water suggests that it was complicated without boring the non science geeks to death.  

When the movie started it was a bit surreal to almost hear the dialog from the book verbatim during the evacuation of the HAB.  I  was happy that they were sticking so close to the book but the dialog seemed a little wooden on the screen.  After the initial five minutes, I did not continue to notice this as the movie proceeded  -- big sigh of relief.  

I did applaud the movie for using a skin stapler instead of suture to close Watney's wound.  It is far more easier, not as painful, and the fact that one came out -- also totally believable.  

Much of the funny elements from the book were still in place such as the 70s music.  Didn't really go into the 70s TV shows though except for the Fonzi thumbs up-- which seemed a little out of place without the TV show set up as in the book -- but the Fonz is somewhat iconic.   

The movie spent a large amount of time with NASA and JPL which was more enjoyable than I thought it would be.   It was amusing to see the JPL and NASA scientists testing things out at the lab and then seeing  Watney performing the tasks.  I also liked the wink to Lord of the Rings with the Council of Elrond which was in the book-- but the movie has Sean Bean in it as Mitch who also happened to play Boromir in Lord of the Rings and attended the Council of Elrond in the Lord of the Rings movie.  In The Martian movie it was pretty obvious that there was a nod and wink to Sean Bean but at the time I could not remember who he played in Lord of the Rings.  Anyway that was just brilliant and I am sure all the Lord of the Rings fans will just love it!!

The movie  did leave quite a few major and I thought pretty important things out of it.  They did not mention anything about the special glue used to seal the space suits, everything was just duct taped together.  Okay -- my 13 year old son has made some amazing things from duct tape but I don't know if I would rely on it to seal a large opening in basically a tent on a planet with extreme environmental conditions.  At least in the movie they suggested that Watney was a little nervous about it too.  

The pop tents and the modification of the extra rover were left out too.  Not such a big deal, but I think the reason why he used the pop tent in the book on his long journey made a lot of sense.  In the movie they just had him sitting outside Rover with his suit in place.  

When they did not have the large sandstorm or the tipping over of the rover  or the loss of communication with NASA-- I was like -- what?  Those were exciting parts of the novel.  They really had to make the rescue count for a big finish -- and they did.  Lewis replaced Beck and Watney got to play Iron Man after all -- not very believable but fun none the less -- and the change ups made you wonder if someone might die after all.  

The book ends with Watney in the Hermes but the movie has an epilogue and basically shows you what has happened to everyone involved in the mission several years after the rescue.  The epilogue was a pleasant addition, because the movie did make you care for these people.

One criticism that I have read in other reviews is that Watney seems too optimistic.  There is not enough angst and "woe is me" in the movie or the book.  Well -- we see a lot of angst in movies -- it is nice to see a character with a personality that is optimistic and extremely resilient.  

I give both the book and movie 4/5 stars.  I am not going to say one is better than the other -- they are both enjoyable.  What was your take on one or the other?  

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