Matt Damon in space, a review.
For the handful of you that follow me here, you likely saw my recent review of the book The Martian by Andy Weir. Well, they made it into a movie starring Matt Damon, and I saw that shit last night. Now keep in mind that I nitpick the fuck outta stuff, and it’s difficult for me to be objective about something I have strong feelings about. This book is definitely something I have strong feelings about, since I really loved it. Ok, enough bullshitting, let’s get down to some reviewing.
As far as the story goes, the movie doesn’t really deviate in any significant way from the book. Of course, they left shit out, because if they didn’t the movie would be insanely long. The stuff they left out wasn’t really mission critical, and I’m mostly ok with it. The characters are also mostly on point. Only a small number of them weren’t really the same. The acting in the movie was great, and the plot moved along well with some great pacing and suspense. The special effects were absolutely first rate, and there are some really great visuals and scenes.
Now, my nitpicking. SPOILERS!!!! The character interactions weren’t really fleshed out as well as I’d have liked. There was a lot of book crammed into the movie, but a lot of the relationships between characters just wasn’t really dug into in the movie, so those who didn’t read the book wouldn’t know or feel as deep of a connection. Also, the characters themselves weren’t as well developed. It felt a little like many of them were kinda shallow, due to only a lack of screen time and dialogue. All are great actors, but only Watney and Lewis were really dug into. The rest played their parts, but they seemed more like plot devices than actual relatable characters. The book did NOT suffer from these problems at all. Some of the changes they made didn’t seem to make much sense, either. For instance (SPOILER) when Mitch sends the coded message to the Hermes crew with the course settings, and Teddy confronts him about it, he doesn’t cop to it, and Teddy doesn’t demand his resignation. This seemed like a pointless change, as I don’t feel it did anything to further plot or character development. The actor they originally had for Venkat Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, could not do the movie due to scheduling conflicts, and I think he’d have been absolutely fantastic. He was in Jurassic World, and he was fucking great in that. Chiwetel Ejiofor did a good job, but my imagining of Irrfan in that role gave him tough shoes to fill. Also, they really underused Annie, played by Kristen Wiig. She was an awesome and hilarious character, and Kristen is both awesome and hilarious. Seemed like a win-win, but she just didn’t have the lines or screen time to really shine. Those scenes where she did, she did it well, but I’d have liked to have had more. Apart from that, I’d have done the movie more like the book, where Watney was recounting what happened during the day, and acted it out with a voiceover instead of long scenes of him doing stuff with no dialogue. During many of those, I kept thinking how much time was being wasted that could’ve been used for his excellent comedic delivery. They also let most of the science take a back seat, where it was fully in the foreground of the book through the entire journey.
Now, I know you’re probably taking this as a negative review, but keep in mind that I’d have wanted a movie that would’ve either not come off well for those who didn’t read the book, or would’ve been impossible to make. All in all, the movie really is fantastic, and if you’re a fan of science fiction, you do yourself a disservice by not seeing it. I’m just having issues getting past the fact that I built it up insanely high in my head, to a level that would be extremely improbable to deliver, and it didn’t deliver as I’d hoped. It’s ok, though. I still have the movie, and the book, I just wish there was more movie. Maybe a director’s cut.
TL:DR It was good, left out some stuff, and you should go watch it.