On Saturday 17 October we all went to an afternoon showing of The Martian at the Genesis Cinema on Mile End Road. It was surprisingly quiet, given it had only been out a couple of weeks. We all enjoyed it. On the Mayo/Kermode film review show Simon Mayo said his son thought it was the best book he'd ever read, and from the interview with Ridley Scott it's clearly one of those 'hard' scifi books which rigorously hypothesises the science to reach a situation and within that situation.
The pleasure in the film, and presumably the book, is hardly at all 'will he survive and be rescued?' but much more about the details of how someone in that situation (being marooned on Mars with limited provisions and resources) could survive and be rescued. So if one was after action and excitement one might be disappointed, but happily we weren't.
One odd thing was that I found myself imagining who'd have been cast in various roles if the film had been made ten or twenty or thirty years ago - mostly because someone briefly made me think 'is that so and so' and then realised no, that's what so and so looked like long ago. Mackenzie Davis was playing Wynona Rider's part. Kristen Wiig was playing Jennifer Aniston's part. My second seeing of Benedict Wong in a couple of weeks - also in Prometheus, another Ridley Scott. I always like seeing him, knowing him first from 15 Storeys High, in which he was great. I saw him in a Hamlet, the Michael Sheen one.
One nice bit was that when someone brings a rescue plan to Nasa, they call it Project Elrond, and Sean Bean's in the room when they talk about why they've called it this. Surprisingly, this was actually in the book, not introduced as an in-joke for the film.