|| I saw The Martian today after having read the book a month or two ago. There were at least a couple catastrophes in the book that the movie avoided but, realistically, it would have been a 3 1/2 hour movie, at least, if they hadn’t. Instead what the movie did capture was Watney’s desolation, and how instead of succumbing to it, he did all he could to save himself by thinking things through. For the most part it captured the essence book brilliantly.
The movie also introduced the rest of the Ares III mission much sooner, and I think it made for a more powerful experience. They had left one of their own behind because they had to, and they had zero reason to think he was still alive. I thought the acting was excellent and they really conveyed the sense of loss and guilt the crew was feeling. It also made the latter half of the movie more poignant when they are brought back into contact and later when they make their fateful decision.
The only thing that really missed for me was the ending. I realize its Hollywood, so to that extent I can certainly understand why they went with the Iron Man ending. The Hero, in popular culture and Hollywood, basically has to save themselves. So the book’s version of Watney waiting to be extracted, by the mission specialist whose job it is to know how to do just that, wouldn’t work. I was disappointed by it though, because I think the book’s version was far more powerful. It sent a message that we can’t all do it alone, and that we really do need each other.
Even though the ending was too much Hollywood, it couldn’t erase how great the rest of the movie was. Watney’s sense of humor and the camaraderie of the Ares III was a delight to watch. The special effects themselves were worth the price of admission, and, really, how often does Sean Bean ever survive an entire movie? It is definitely worth watching the movie, but I highly recommend the book as well, if not more.