The Martian: a stellar adaptation



Disclaimer: Ten months ago I read the original novel and consider it the best best sci-fi novel written in the last twenty-five years.


That being said, I went in with high expectations.


“The Martian” tells the story of a single NASA astronaut who, after a series of unfortunate events, finds himself stranded on Mars with no ability to contact Earth. With his botanist background and the supplies left behind by his four crew members he must survive four years on the red planet.


When the cast and crew of this film were originally announced I could not have been happier. “Alien” visionary Ridley Scott directs Matt Damon as the stranded astronaut, Mark Watney. The rest of the cast is a mixed bag.


Nobody does a necessarily bad job acting in this film, some even surpassed my expectations, but I found myself asking if certain actors were cast because Scott made up a fantasy cast in his head while reading “The Martian” in novel form, regardless of their coherence with the characters.


Sean Bean, Kristen Wigg, Donald Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor are wonderful actors in certain roles, yet lack no real connection to their characters in “The Martian.”


The cynic in me questions if they weren’t shoe-horned into the film by Fox because of pre-existing contract obligations, or because a casting director felt the star power would help ticket sales.


Cynicism aside, I’d argue “Martian” is one of the most important sci-fi films to hit theaters in years. Not only is it one of the most scientifically accurate portrayals of space exploration ever produced, filled to the brim with technology that either exists currently in smaller forms or is in development at NASA today, but is also one of the most inspiring.


Watching “The Martian” reminds me interplanetary exploration is a genuine possibility. With the first manned Orion mission only fifteen years away and Monday’s announcement of liquid water on the surface, Mars seems closer than ever.


Some films are merely distractions, while others act as inspiration. Somewhere in the world a child is sitting in their seat watching Watney swear his way across the Schiaparelli crater who might just be in the first crew to actually land there.
I rarely give perfect scores to films, but “The Martian” is a film that comes at the right time. A perfect score does not mean a perfect film, but it does mean a film that stands as a prime example of its own genre released at the perfect moment.

“The Godfather” defined the gangster drama, “Easy Rider” gave voice to a restless subculture and“The Martian” inspires what I can only imagine as an Apollo-era thrill for space travel.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)