October 2 is scheduled as the release date of a film adaptation of “The Martian,” a book written by Andy Weir and set on Mars. The approaching release of the movie has renewed interest in the novel it is based on, which has been at the top of The New York Times bestseller list. The lead character in the book, Mark Watney, is unintentionally marooned on the planet by his crewmates. They presume that he is dead after he is injured during a storm that forces the rest of the astronauts to leave the planet.
One of the first elements that readers might notice while reading the book, is the detailed descriptions Weir employs to paint the picture of not only the setting that Watney occupies, but both how and why the characters act. For instance, when they learn that Watney survived the storm and is still alive on Mars, the discussion between them about a rescue attempt tackles the specifics of what they would have to do to succeed.
As the days turn into months, Watney must overcome various challenges and unfortunate circumstances in order to survive.
An example shown briefly in the teaser trailer to the film is that in order to eat, Watney must figure out how to grow food. Surmounting this seemingly impossible task, his crop grows, eventually providing him with the sustenance he will need. However, it isn’t just the natural elements of the planet that he must endure, as simply surviving in the short term will not be enough to make it home. To find a way to make contact with NASA, he has to drive a rover that he modifies for the long trip to a previous mission site, and use the materials left behind to make a device that can send messages to Earth.
Much of the novel is told from Watney’s perspective, conveying the isolation that he experiences as the only human on the planet he occupies. Although told through his logs in the past tense, the events that transpire never allow the audience to feel complacent about his chance of survival. Watney states as the book begins that he will most likely end up dying on Mars. The novel is well written, and doesn’t skimp on details; Watney’s ordeal is felt by the reader, and Weir makes sure the conditions are grim. The small joys that Watney feels are a brief respite from the tumultuous majority of the text. The film looks to convey much of what makes the novel great, but for those that cannot wait to experience the story, the novel is a compelling read well worth the time.
A veteran cast of well-known actors are in “The Martian” film, which is directed by Ridley Scott.
After the poor showing of Scott’s last movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings” one has to question if the quality of the upcoming film will be able to match that of the novel. Receiving a score of 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, “Exodus” was not the same level of quality one might expect from the man who directed “Alien” and “Blade Runner.” However, the science fiction space that “The Martian” occupies is a place where Scott appears much more at home in, and given the source material and the cast performing it, the film has every opportunity to be a success.