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The Martian by Andy Weir

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The Martian is a novel written by Andy Weir and was published in 2011. It details the journey of a man named Mark Watney, an astronaut who is stranded on Mars and is seemingly doomed to die. However, through a heaping pile of wit, humor, sheer luck, and disco music, this is not a story of a man who died, but a man who survived. The film of the same name was directed by Ridley Scott and was released on October 2nd, 2015 in the United States. It received many positive reviews that praised the cast and crew for a job well done.

However, just because the film was positively received, doesn’t mean it stuck to the story of the novel. In this issue of Read VS View, we’ll be discussing whether or not Mark Watney’s journey was just as dangerous, or if it was just another mind-numbing Hollywood blockbuster. Stay cautious because the spoilers in this article are out of this world.

Marielle (Similarities):

One of the driving components of The Martian is Mark Watney’s sense of humor. Throughout his stay on Mars, he manages to joke around and share his experiences with the book’s readers through log entries on his computer. To me, it was vital for the film to have the same level of humor Mark had in the novel because if not, it just wouldn’t be the same, even if the character had the same name and was stuck on Mars for a year and a half.

Despite my fears, however, the film did a great job of translating Mark’s humor onto the silver screen. With the help of a visual aid, Matt Damon’s performance as Mark Watney allowed him to shoot facial expressions and witty statements at the camera and allowed the audience to laugh along with him when he blows himself up multiple times. You get to see Mark frown when he realizes the only music he has to listen to is disco, see him smile when he finds his plants are successfully growing, and see him pump his fists in triumph when he makes a breakthrough.

Of course, Mark Watney’s humor isn’t the focal point of this book. The film maintains the trials Mark goes through despite a few small omissions, though they are forgivable, and the ending of the movie still hits home. While the film showed the novel’s underlying message through visuals instead of direct lines from the book, it still embodies the quote, “Every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true.”

Vann (Differences):

The Martian is a great example of book to movie adaption with its spot on cinematography as well as characterization, however there are a few differences between them.

One of the things that stood out to me the most was that the movie did not show how challenging the disasters Mark Watney went through were. It seemed like the movie showed the problem and then Watney fixed without breaking a sweat. It was a bit too fast-paced to me, however that makes sense since it’s a movie and not a whole book.

The movie also didn’t have as much humor as it could have when compared to Watney’s humor in the book. In the book, Watney is quite vulgar and sarcastic, while in the movie he had a lot of witty one liners to break up the harshness of being alone on Mars.

Venkat Kapoor is one of the characters in The Martian who supports the retrieval of Mark Watney when others opposed it. In the movie, his name was changed to Vincent and was played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, an actor of Nigerian descent, even though, in the novel, Venkat is an Indian name. It felt strange to see a character’s ethnicity change for the sake of having a name that is easier for Americans to pronounce.

At the end of the movie, it is Commander Lewis instead of Chris Beck who rescues Watney after he’s launched into space in a space ship that’s been stripped of almost all its necessities. Even though it was a small change, it showed a chance for redemption for Lewis since she had to leave Watney in the beginning. Afterwards, the movie included an epilogue that was not part of the book that showed the crew’s lives after everything had settled. It was very satisfying for me since the book ended right when Watney was rescued.
Even though there were changes in the movie, they were needed to make the movie more viewable.

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