Book vs. Movie: The Martian

TheMartianBookIf you are part of the HPB Book Club, you have been reading Andy Weir’s bestselling science-fiction novel, The Martian.  The movie based on this book will be released on October 2. After reading the book, I spoke with our resident movie expert, who we call “The Singing Hotdog,” about how he thought the new movie was going to measure up to the book.

The Martian Movie Trailer

Me: The book, The Martian, is a bit like Cast Away on Mars. Most of it, especially in the beginning is just Mark Watney recording how he got stranded on Mars and what he is doing to try and stay alive.  Do you think Matt Damon will be able to carry this movie like Tom Hanks carried Cast Away?

The Singing Hotdog: Absolutely Matt Damon will be able to pull off the role of Mark Watney.  I think that director Ridley Scott is finally the director to take advantage of Matt Damon’s sense of humor. You see a little bit of this come through in the theatrical trailer when he proclaims to be “the best botanist on the planet.” Most people forget that Matt Damon is not just Jason Bourne. He has played some very complex characters like Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley. If the film is well received Matt Damon could be vaulted into the best actor category at the Oscars but I also believe this category is going to be very tough to break into with Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Eddie Redmayne looking like locks already. We will see what happens.

Me: Good to know about Damon’s sense of humor.  Mark Watney’s sense of humor is one of the best things about the book, and will be an important part of the movie.

The book has a lot of action, which is right up Ridley Scott’s alley if you ask me, but most of the action is Mark versus nature.  What kind of special effects do you think we should expect in this movie?

The Singing Hotdog: As far as the special effects go, of course, they will be top notch and eye-popping.  But often the best special-effects are the ones that are in support of a good story. Ridley Scott has done this again with The Martian. Just as Alien and Blade Runner are special-effects masterpieces, they are also both very powerful stories and very well written.

Me: In your opinion, will this movie be an Oscar contender for Best Picture?

The Singing Hotdog: It is getting harder to predict Oscars especially in the beginning of October with so many films yet to come out. If the film really takes off like I think it will, you can probably expect Best Picture, Best Director and maybe Actor nominations coming. On the other hand if it just does average at the box office it could be last years Interstellar that everyone predicted to be a best picture nominees and it barely scratched the surface winning Special Effects.

Me: One last question: In the book, Mark is stranded on Mars with everything left behind when his crew has to bug out, including their person effects. In order to assess his assets and also to pass the time, Mark rummages through their effects and finds things like disco music, and 70s TV shows. If you were going on a mission to Mars, what would someone find if they looked through your personal effects?

The Singing Hotdog: If Mark Watney were to rummage through the personal effects I left behind he would probably find a couple of blank moleskin journals and a few fine point sharpie markers used for sketching. I would also probably have a few of my favorite movies on DVD (what my favorites are could be a whole story in itself) and a picture of my dog, Kelsey.

Me: Thanks for giving us your insights.  I’m looking forward to seeing this book on the big screen.  (One of your movies would be Titanic, wouldn’t it?)

The Singing Hotdog smiles at me but says nothing.

The movie version of Andy Weir’s The Martian will be in theaters this Friday.  Check it out, and let us know how you think the movie compares to the book.  Also, just for the fun of it: what personal effects would you bring to a mission on Mars?

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