I'd watch it.
Might even pick up the book before then. I need some light sci-fi. :-)
Earlier this week, 20th Century Fox released a trailer for the Matt Damon and Ridley Scott vehicle The Martian, a due-in-November film based on a novel of the same name by Andy Weir. The book's really sweet, although aspiring novelists will wonder why they didn't think of the “astronaut left behind on Mars figures out how to …
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"It's been done before, it was called Robinson Crusoe."
You know, there was a 60s scifi maybe-not-quite-B-movie called "Robinson Crusoe on Mars", complete with Martian man Friday.
Mine's the spacesuit with all the red dust on it!
It is a great read, I am very hopeful that they convert it well without too much 'action'.
Yes there is action, and rightly so, but other parts are the story...
But by looking at the trailer, very well done!
BUT they have too many teasers in the trailer, too many events I can instantly pick out by watching it...
WHY oh WHY do they put so many teasers in the trailers!!!!
The book circulated very well at my office, an aerospace company, and about a dozen folks ended up reading my copy. We had trouble nitpicking the science - Weir did his homework, with a little glitch about RTGs' dangers and something about breathing mixtures caught by a scuba diver. The book was mostly carried by the protagonist's humor and narrative style. Poor bastard: stuck on Mars and, worse, with only '70s music and sitcoms for entertainment.
It's going to be challenging to adapt this properly to movie format. An astronaut's diary is fine as a novel, but could go horribly wrong as a movie. The vital narration is too easy to leave out of a movie, as happened with the Hunger Games movie. Or the narration could overwhelm the movie and turn into a found-footage, Blair Witch pile of garbage.
The trailer was promising, though.
>"We had trouble nitpicking the science - Weir did his homework, with a little glitch about RTGs' dangers and something about breathing mixtures caught by a scuba diver."
Having discussed the book with a few different people from a few different science/engineering domains - who, I will say, all enjoyed it despite its several faults - the biggest complaint seemed to be 'I was happy to let the science be slightly iffy - right up until he got some fundamental of my domain wrong, and it all fell apart!".
For me it was the Arduino-level understanding of electricity / electronics displayed, which lead to some consideration of the thermodynamics issues it raised, which then started the whole thing unravelling...
Can you two seriously not see that this is what's destroyed the genre? The problems you have aren't with any 'science' - the author is not doing science, he's writing a book. That is not how science is done. If he were doing science, he would be publishing in a journal. Requiring fiction authors to be right down to the finest minutia and trivia is batshit crazy and utterly hostile to new writers - would you have the same sort of conniption if he used a model of car that didn't exist? No. Please stop neutering the genre.
That is the problem cray74, the book is brilliant, and it doesn't need a protagonist, there are enough problems facing our hero to keep it interesting. But translate it to a film, especially a Hollywood film and I have my doubts about it being anywhere near as good and I fear they will try and make some bureaucrat who will try and nix things, just to give the film a villain. It doesn't need a f****ing villain!
A film doesn't need good guys and bad guys to be a winner. It needs a good story, and this is a stormer.
"The Red Planet isn't a good bad guy, because the challenges it throws at Watney are forces of nature and, as such, immutable, impersonal and undirected."
I think it was Ted Nugent that said, "Once you spend a little time with her and really get to know mother nature, you come to realize what a stone cold bitch she is. She'll kill you in a heart beat, given the chance." Or something to that effect.
Most people on the planet spend the majority of their time in cities or at 30K feet and are blissfully ignorant of nature.
And that's here on earth. Once you get out beyond the magnetosphere she gets orders of magnitude rougher.
Which brings up the point that Mars' magnetic field is nearly non-existent and that is the major reason we'll never live on Mars for more than a few forays. Unless, of course, the infinite improbability drive pops into our universe.
I think the thing that made the book for me was that he was, in fact, a complete realist. The book opens with him accepting that he is royally, utterly, and terminally fucked, and is probably going to die sooner rather than later. And then just getting on with it and seeing what he can do to delay that point.
I have to say that I am dubious about the film. Hollywood(tm) has a long and dishonourable history of taking this sort of "Joe Average doing their best to survive" book and completely missing the point, making the central character out to be some sort of superhuman hero.
However, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and go and see it anyway, because it could be bloody excellent :-)
The book reminded me a heck of a lot of Douglas Mawson's Home of the Blizzard, which features his survival in Antarctica after a disaster some 500km from their base,
He has a similar improvisational style, manufacturing what is needed to survive, and simply perservering through force of will, despite numerous setbacks.
Many reviews like this one complain that the subject never falls into despair, yet when you read a lot of first hand accounts of survival, very few actually do experience much despair. When they do, they certainly don't write about it - it just isn't something they waste energy on. Mawson has a quote I've never forgotten - upon pausing for a break in the sun one day because his feet hurt, he peels off his boots and socks and the soles of his feet come away with them. He writes Was there ever to be a day without some special disappointment? . He then dried them, bandaged them up, put his socks and boots back on and kept on walking - because there was no other option.
Weir's book is well researched and compelling entertainment. I'm very much looking forward to the movie.
I wouldn't get too keen on Mawson as a hero........if a TV documentary last year with a somewhat revisionist view of polar history is to be believed, Mawson deliberately engineered the death of his remaining colleagues so that (1) he (Mawson) wouldn't run out of food (2) he could turn to cannibalism if required. The evidence was incomplete as to whether he did turn cannibal, but the narrator indicated that he believed Mawson did.
It may be so, but I couldn't get past the awful, stilted prose. Robert Silverberg this just ain't. Had real high hopes when I bought this but I couldn't get past the tenth page. I so badly wanted to forget my snobbery and just enjoy it but dammit literate science fiction is my particular thang, and this just didn't cut it for me.
Icon because I am aware I'm coming over like an enraged (deranged?) Eng Lit prof.
I understand where you're coming from, but most good first-person SF 'magically' has a highly literate prose style that evokes a sense of awesome. See RAH, Chris Priest, Ursula Le Guin etc. Sadly, clumsy prose doesn't come across as more realistic; it just feels clumsy.
There will have to be explosions and some sort of gun battle / car chase. Its Hollywood after all. How they'll work that in to a movie about a guy alone on Mars will be interesting to see. My money is on aliens or the "other country's guy who secretly got to Mars first".
"Science therefore emerges as the book's hero to perhaps a greater degree than Watney himself."
That is the entire sciencing-the-shit-out-of-it point of the entire novel and the entire film.
Next you'll complain that the giant monsters and giant robots made it hard to focus on the human drama in Pacific Rim, or that all the sex got in the way of the plot in a porn movie...
Would you be at liberty to say whether consideration was given or promised to you personally or to your employer, in exchange for writing this review?
I don't know whether the book / film / video game / theatre play is any good, but I do not find so-called viral marketing campaigns all that appealing.
The book was a novelty for the first half, but after that it just became dull. Problem, explanation, solution. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. To be fair, given the plot, there wasn't much the author could do about it.
I suspect this is a case in which the movie should be able to improve on the novel. Whereas the novel was for the most part first-person from the stranded astronaut's viewpoint, the movie could make things more interesting with some unreliable narrator devices (or indeed, going insane), and giving us more than just his opinion or perspective.
The premise sounds excellent - though the film is rather too stuffed with Hollywood hunks / babes for my taste. I particularly doubt I could bear to hear Matt Damon growl "I'm gonna science the shit out of this". Everyone's a science cheerleader these days, yet no-one cares when an actual Nobel prize winning scientist is hounded from his position for saying something ill-advised.
I have also read the book and it's good stuff, Mark is a smart guy using good science to survive where most others (even other really smart people) would probably fail.
So I don't understand why the hell they should pick Matt Damon for this role? Because he immediately comes to mind when you think of a highly intelligent scientist/engineer, right?
Possibly this is the earliest "Astronaut surviving alone on Mars" novel.
Rex Gordon's "No Man Friday" from 1956. Has a good Quatermass feel to it, with Gordon's Mars teeming with life to provide obstacles as well as salvation to plucky Brit Holder. I originally picked this up after hearing it was the inspiration for "Robinson Crusoe on Mars", but apart from the location there's no commonality between the two.
How About Mission to Mars (2000)? Don Cheadle played stranded Astronaut Luke Graham.
I thought of that movie after reading the Martian over the last few days. The stories are actually pretty similar in style, as in (other than that last bit of MtM) it's almost entirely about the dangers of space and not space-monsters (or robo-space-monsters, see the contemporary "Red Planet" with Val Kilmer). I read the review of MtM and it apparently got panned in the press, but I thought it was a decent movie; but I'm a sucker for nature is the antagonist stuff. In a somewhat similar feel, check out Robert Redford in "All is Lost". I think there's only one line of dialog in the entire movie, but it's pretty compelling.
The story was as it should be, with good explanations and descriptions of what was happening. There are some stand out moments that I really hope they keep as they were in the book but I do share others views that Hollywood (tm) just can't tell a good story without passing it through their "how to make a money - making film" machine.
I hope that the excellent visuals live up to my imagination.
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