When I read the announcement several days ago that Ridley Scott’s next film (following his biblical epic Exodus) will be The Martian, based on a recent book by American first-time author Andy Weir, I was both surprised (had rather expected his next film to be Prometheus 2) and curious, as I had never even heard of the novel. Reviews on Amazon were mostly positive so I took a punt and ordered a copy- at the very least it would give me a break from my Game of Thrones marathon read (just started book three folks for those interested).
So The Martian arrived last Friday on a rainy afternoon and I picked it up to give a few chapters a go before starting my chores… and a few hours later I was still reading it (chores undone), already midway through it, thoroughly captivated by it. Okay, it won’t ever win any literary awards but good grief, as I read it I kept thinking, ‘this will make one hell of a bloody movie!‘. Its also one hell of a page-turner- if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was going out that evening, I’d have cracked on with the book and likely finished it in one sitting, something totally unheard of for me. It really is one of those ‘couldn’t put it down’ books.
Its got a killer premise- the third Nasa mission to Mars is beset by a mission-threatening sandstorm on its sixth day on the planet. Nasa informs the party to abort the mission and launch back to orbit for return to Earth, but during the hazardous trip through the storm to the launch vehicle, one of the crew is left behind – presumed dead when he is struck by flying debris from the wrecked communications array and separated from the others in the storm, the life-signs from his suit indicating he is dead.
He awakes stranded on Mars, a space-age Robinson Crusoe- without any way to communicate with Earth, in a habitat designed to last just 31 days. His crew-mates already on their way home, everyone on Earth believes him dead. “If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of these things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed.”
So anyway, I got back to the book at first opportunity the next day and completed it. I’d read the whole damned book in just two days. Weir obviously did plenty of research, and it certainly seems realistic and the technology plausible. He keeps the tension levels up with plenty of twists and turns, a tale of survival against incredible odds and the ending is great- it’ll bring the house down in cinemas.
As a pitch for a movie, its a no-brainer; its Apollo 13 times ten, hot on the heels of the hugely successful Gravity, and its clear what kind of a thrilling movie this might be if handled properly- indeed with Ridley Scott at the helm I’m salivating at the prospect. Its supposed to be coming out in 2015 which seems a bit of a quick turnaround considering that Scott hasn’t completed Exodus yet, but who knows? Matt Damon seems to be already attached so things are evidently moving with it. Whatever one thinks of the book, this really could be a great movie (I could see it in my head as I read it). Besides, if he’s busy with this, Ridley can’t crack on with that damned Blade Runner 2 project we’re being threatened with, so its a win-win in my book.