The Martian – Is the Book Better?

By now, you’ve read reviews about Ridley Scott’s sci-fi blockbuster The Martian.

They cover the gamut, so there’s no reason to retread something you’ve possibly already read.

Since The Martian is an adaptation from a book by the same name, does it receive the same criticism other movie adaptations get?

Is book better than the movie?

What The Movie Gets Right

Since The Martian is a survival story, how Mark Watney was adapted and portrayed would make or break the movie. He is the focal point of the story. If he was too dull or too serious, then the movie, which has a run time of two-and-a-half hours, would have felt like it.

Thankfully, we get the smartass Andy Weir, the book’s author, created. He used “science” as a verb, explained how he’s the first space pirate, and used the same Iron Man line in the story’s pivotal rescue scene.

Other characters aren’t as interesting as Watney, nor are they supposed to be. Their sole purpose in the movie and the book is to save Watney’s ass. We get to know some of them in the book, but that missing information doesn’t impact the story.

What the Movie Does Better

The shots of the crew’s ship and the Martian landscape were fantastic. The visuals were better than anything that I pictured while reading the book. That’s either a sign of great special effects or a poor imagination on my part. (You pick.)

I’m not saying The Martian‘s visuals are as impressive as, say, Interstellar, but they do a great job showing us the vast nothingness on Mars. The crew’s space ship, the Hermes, didn’t look bad either.

I saw The Martian in 3D, which is why the visuals stood out to me. The 3D is subtle, but it comes into play in the panoramic shots. (I’m kicking myself for skipping Interstellar in 3D.) That said, if you want to see the 3D version, go to a matinee and save a buck or two.

Where the Movie Misses

It shouldn’t be a surprise when I say not everything from the book was in the movie. Shocker, I know, but it’s true. Most of what was skipped had zero effect on the main story. No loss there.

But there was something about the movie’s Mark Watney that was a bit off. The movie does a great job capturing his character, but they didn’t nail it.

In the book, we see inside Watney’s mind. That’s where the funniest one-liners and gripes about his crewmates are. Being able to see his internal wit and thought process really helps us get an idea of who Mark Watney is.

The movie has no way of replicating that. That’s not on the writers, Matt Damon, or Ridley Scott. It’s a limitation of that media.

It’s the only thing the movie misses on, and really, I can’t fault them for not being able to put a camera inside Matt Damon’s head.

Which is Better, the Book or Movie?

Despite the movie’s impressive visual effects, the book is better. Barely. Watney is a witty smartass in both versions, but seeing the character’s thought process and inner monologue really made Watney more real and believable.

But don’t let that one criticism keep you from seeing the movie. It’s a book adaptation that is well constructed and does justice to the source material.

Do you think the book was better? Am I completely off my rocker to say such a thing? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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