Monday, February 22, 2016

"The Martian" (2015)

So, in the end I did like the book better than the film. But it is a great movie! No one could have asked them to adapt the book any better and still have a watchable movie. You just can’t do any better adapting a journal-entry-story, and forget about trying to incorporate any more of the math that was in the book. For cinema you just need more visual action.

I found the translation to screen did something else, though. The book almost read like one of those old, adventure, exploration, frontier stories. That’s what it was, all the hard scifi notwithstanding. However, we are so used to modern “action film” that it didn’t have that same feel on the screen. It was just another (albeit a better) space adventure.

It was that that helped me see where this story does fall short of those old frontier adventures. We were short on wonder. This is so much a rescue story, (perhaps more a survival against all odds story) that we don’t get much of our character just taking in the wonder of things, exploring a new world. Not that the hard scifi allows for that.

More than anything else, this story goes all out on the “worship the wonder of the human willpower” element. The end feels a bit like a religious experience, and I don’t think that is accidental. I think it is fair to say the film is going for a secular humanist message. I don’t want to make too big a deal about this, but you sometimes get a Tower of Babylon feel from some of these stories. It’ll be interesting to see how the real story of Mars colonization goes for us.

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