The Martian was my favorite book of 2014, so when it quickly was turned around into a huge movie the following year, I was a little nervous they could get it right. Especially so, because Ridley Scott, who used to be one of the most dependable directors in Hollywood, was helming it and was riding a decade long dry spell. Fortunately Scott was able to summon up a final science fiction masterpiece (no, I don’t hold out any hope for further ones) aided by perhaps the performance of Matt Damon’s career, an amazing ensemble cast, and fundamentally awesome source material (you can read my full review here).
One of the reasons that the story of Damon’s botanist, stranded on the Red Planet when his crew thinks him dead and leaves him behind, works so well is that it is 1) grounded in science and 2) as filled with funny moments as the novel is. Damon doesn’t have to quite do the amount of solo camera time that Tom Hanks did in Cast Away, but this is probably the closest to that feat that any other actor has come. Like Hanks did with Wilson (the greatest prop in movie history), Damon uses his logs to come up for an excuse for essentially breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. My favorite of these log rants begins with Damon using Vicodin as a condiment and ends with a convoluted explanation of how Mars now belongs to him under maritime law and that he is, in fact, a space pirate.
By the way, Andy Weir’s second novel (Artemis) hasn’t even been released yet and has been snapped up by a studio with The LEGO Movie team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller attached to direct.