Story by Zakiya Austin


Photo courtesy of Houston Public Media

It’s no secret that when the movie world gets its hands on a best selling novel, a few things are rearranged and switched around to fit into the banal Hollywood box that appears on the big screens.  We’ve seen it with Tthe Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, and now in Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the 2011 novel The Martian written by Andy Weir. As far as adaptations go, this one was actually pretty good. It definitely lived up to the hype fabricated by TV commercials and YouTube trailers.
The film depicts a time-possibly in the future-where humans have landed on Mars and are collecting samples for further research on Earth. While on such a mission, a team of six find themselves in the midst of a storm. This storm is so severe that it could topple the spacecraft from its upright position and strand the scientists on Mars.

During the melee of the storm, all but one passenger makes it back on board: the exception being botanist Mark Watney. His crew members assume him to have perished in an incident involving space debris and an ill-fated standing position, but Watney remains on Mars armed with nothing but his quick wits and a high tech, fully adapted space house, or the HAB. He is determined to stay alive and return home. The movie is his journey through the trials of inhabiting a desolate planet with the possibility of death always a looming shadow in the back of his mind.
Aside from a few minuscule tweaks, like the amount of space used to grow potatoes in the HAB or the time and material used to repair the broken helmet after an explosion, the film rarely deviates from the plot set in the book. Of course a few ends were clipped, but that, again, is so that it fits into the aforementioned Hollywood box. But this motion picture took it a step further. It was not only outside of the box, it jumped into a different dimension that not many have experienced. It took the very unrealistic and science fiction ideas from the book and made it a virtual reality with the panoramic space shots, the futuristic interior designs of every piece of technology featured and the authenticity of Mars’ landscape.

Overall, The Martian was a suspenseful film with incredible graphics and a detailed plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It ventures into the world of science in a way that even those who are not science majors can understand.  Find the book at your local library or catch the film in a theater near you.