There are so many movies adapted from novels that it’s damn near impossible to catch up with those books after watching the flicks. But don’t worry, the good guys at CineFix are here to help you out, with their YouTube series, “What’s The Difference?”, where they lay out the major differences between the movie and the source material in a fun and informative way. Their most interesting episodes concern films that deviated significantly from the original source, since they succinctly point out how much characters, storylines, and even genres can change during the long and laborious development stage of a major Hollywood movie. For a nice example, check out the episode on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.
It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes a movie adaptation stays very close to the storyline and tone of the source material. “The Martian”, Ridley Scott’s touching story about the wonderful journey human feces takes into becoming french fries, might have gone home empty handed from the Oscars, but that doesn’t mean that the fairly entertaining sci-fi flick didn’t do right by Andy Weir’s original novel. According to the CineFix team, Drew Goddard’s screenplay adaptation of Weir’s book stays fairly close to the novel, right down to the sardonic yet hopeful portrayal of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), the botanist accidentally left behind to die on the red planet, and is forced to survive on aforementioned poop potatoes as well as bad disco tunes.
The video does a good job of singling out the major differences between the movie and the book, while pointing out that the movie stays fairly loyal to the novel’s story, beats and tone. The characters seem to have been transferred almost verbatim, except for two that apparently differ significantly from the way they’re portrayed in the novel. One of the most interesting aspects of the adaptation, and an important point of reference for anyone who wants to learn more about adapting novels into screenplays, is the fact that while the big action set piece where Watney’s left behind is seen as a flashback halfway through the novel, it’s placed at the beginning of the movie. It’s okay to open a novel in a less exciting and more expositional way, but a mainstream sci-fi flick like “The Martian” needs an exciting hook, so it was a good idea to move that scene to the very beginning.
The stale jokes about space pirates get old before they even begin, but this video should be interesting to anyone who liked the movie enough to be interested in the book, but didn’t love it enough to read it. Check it out below: