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The Martian - Extended Edition (Blu-ray) (2015)
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Details At A Glance
Audio Commentary-with Ridley Scott, Drew Goddard and Andy Weir
Featurette-Making Of-The Long Way Home: Making "The Martian"
Featurette-Ares Mission Videos
Year Of Production
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew
20th CENTURY FOX
Twentieth Century Fox
Pan & Scan/Full Frame
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio
|Original Aspect Ratio
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Annoying Product Placement
|Action In or After Credits
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
In the hands of practically any other filmmaking team, 2015’s The Martian would have been an insufferably tedious, self-serious science fiction flick shamelessly manufactured for Oscars. But with a spirited screenplay by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods, World War Z), and with veteran director Sir Ridley Scott at the helm, The Martian is an incredibly involving sci-fi drama endowed with a welcome sense of humanity. Based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same name, this film is a godsend, a mix of Cast Away and Apollo 13 which positively comes alive in the hands of Mr. Scott. Smartly-written, technically proficient, emotionally gripping and highly entertaining, it’s an unexpected late-year bright spot. There was a lot of anticipation leading up to The Martian’s release, but considering Scott’s recent track record, there was certainly some degree of apprehension mixed with the hope that the film would be a home run. Thankfully, it’s a masterpiece.
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is a botanist on a mission to Mars, working alongside an amiable crew consisting of Beth (Kate Mara), Chris (Sebastian Stan), Rick (Michael Peña), Alex (Aksel Hennie), and Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). When a violent storm hits and the team are forced to evacuate, Mark is hit by satellite debris and presumed dead, forcing Melissa to make the difficult decision to leave their fallen comrade behind. When the dust settles, Mark wakes up injured but alive, quickly realising that he’s hopelessly alone and might need to wait up to four years to be rescued. Determined to stay alive, Mark begins strategising and rationing, and even begins to grow crops on the desolate planet to enhance his food supply. Back on Earth, NASA eventually discover that Mark is alive, with chief Teddy (Jeff Daniels) working with top minds to establish communication with Mark and bring their boy home.
The Martian is extraordinarily light on its feet, breezing through a brisk but effective opening segment concentrating on the storm, stranding Mark as quickly as possible in order for the film to get into its groove and focus on survival techniques. It’s gripping to watch Mark employ his ingenuity to ensure his survival, with vignettes alternating between the playful and the sombre, and Scott handles the tonal changes with astonishing ease. Perhaps more depth and background to Mark’s character would have been appreciated, but not a single frame of the film’s 140-minute runtime goes to waste. The movie constantly shifts focus between Mark, NASA and Mark’s crew who are still on their way home, yet Scott juggles the numerous subplots masterfully, maintaining momentum and a skilful pace from start to end.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of Goddard’s adapted screenplay is its playful sense of humour. Most movies these days adhere to the patented Christopher Nolan approach, i.e. dour drama with serious actors standing around saying serious dialogue in a serious tone. Hell, a number of Scott’s recent movies have even fallen victim to this (Prometheus, The Counselor, Exodus). Standing in stark contrast to this, The Martian is often very amusing, but the comedy is neither forced nor farcical; rather, the laughs emerge organically from the character interactions, heightening that all-important sense of humanity. And since the movie concerns itself with dense science that the average film-goer will struggle to comprehend, the playfulness keeps us interested.
Backed by a generous budget, The Martian is striking from a visual standpoint, with a mixture of sets, digital effects and location shooting to create the illusion of being on the surface of Mars. However, Scott’s direction is also non-intrusive and honest, letting the dramatic potential of the plot speak for itself, even creating a few montage sequences (backed by terrific musical choices) to effectively convey the passage of time. The final act, meanwhile, is a masterclass of photorealistic special effects and tremendous suspense, showing that the 77-year-old director can still create nail-biting set-pieces. There are moments of theatricality scattered throughout – most noticeably towards the picture’s dénouement – that stuffy critics may whinge about, but such moments work in this context. The Martian is a movie, after all, and the climax manages to be entertaining whilst simultaneously being intense and believable. It’s a tricky balancing act, yet Scott pulls it off competently.
Damon deserves a lion’s share of the credit for making the movie work. Especially throughout The Martian’s opening act, large chunks amount to a one-man show, with Scott concentrating on Watney’s day-to-day routine intercut with his constant video logs. But while Damon deserves Oscar consideration, the rest of the ensemble also contribute in a major way - there’s not a dud performance in the bunch. Daniels emanates gravitas as the NASA chief, while the likes of Sean Bean and Kristen Wiig are unexpectedly brilliant in dramatic supporting roles as NASA employees. Bean in particular hasn’t been so alive in years. Meanwhile, Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) positively lights up the screen with a charismatic performance as the Mars mission director. Digging further into the cast, Chastain is predictably great, while Kate Mara puts in solid work to help us forget about Fantastic 4. Also noteworthy is Donald Glover in a small but pivotal role as someone who’s key to bringing Mark home safely.
Despite Scott’s tendency towards director’s cuts, an extended edition for The Martian was admittedly risky due to the movie’s already beefy runtime and brisk pacing. But lo and behold, this extended cut is easily my preferred version. It adds some nice character moments, a few extra laughs, and it effectively augments the narrative in a number of ways. If you’re a fan of the movie, you will no doubt find the extended edition to be a worthwhile upgrade. And for newcomers, this is the best way to become acquainted with The Martian.
Armchair critics may be able to pick The Martian apart for scientific inaccuracies, but I am not a scientist. What matters is that this movie works on its own terms, as a low-key blockbuster of sorts with intelligence, heart and personality, and it’s not weighed down by pretensions or a sense of self-seriousness.
Those of you who purchased the original Blu-ray release back in February may be wondering why Fox didn't give us this extras-laden extended edition set in the first place. Well, rumour has it that Fox wanted to get the Blu-ray out as quickly as possible to keep it fresh in the minds of the public with the Academy Award nominations coming up, hence the astonishing two-and-a-half month gap between its theatrical release date and the Blu-ray release. Due to this, there wasn't enough time for the folks at Fox to complete the special effects in the extended scenes, or compile all the special features. I mentioned in my original review that a superior release was most likely on the way, and now here we are. If you own the original release, sell it quickly and buy this set!
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The presentation for this Blu-ray appears to be identical to Fox's previous release of the theatrical cut (reviewed by yours truly here), so my thoughts from said review still stand:
The Martian was shot digitally with a variety of cameras, from Red Epic Dragon to GoPro Hero4. Presented in 2.40:1 via the MPEG-4 AVC video codec, Ridley Scott’s latest opus looks truly stunning on Blu-ray, with a pristine transfer that faithfully replicates the cinema experience. Placed on a BD-50, Fox allots the movie a healthy bitrate, and the results are spectacular.
The sheer clarity of the video is remarkable, allowing us to marvel at the intricate details on the space suits. Close-ups reveal plenty every pore and wrinkle on the actors’ faces, and the surface of Mars looks gorgeously expansive, with plenty of depth to the image, even in 2D. Sharpness is consistently above-average as well, and the video never falls victim to ringing or aliasing. The colour palette remains true to the images I recall seeing in the cinema, with Mars looking warm and orange, while the scenes set in space and on Earth possess their own distinctive look. No matter the environment or the lighting, the transfer never falters. It looks spectacular.
I did detect some noise at times, but it’s refined rather than blocky. Added to this, the GoPro footage does suffer a tiny bit, but that’s to be expected, and all shortcomings are attributable to the source. This aside, everything else about the video soars, with deep blacks and stable colours. The Martian excels on disc, though the Ultra HD Blu-ray is reportedly even better.
A number of subtitle options are available, and the English track poses no issues.
Video Ratings Summary
Even better than the video on this release is the audio, with a flawless DTS-HD MA 7.1 track that effortlessly dazzles. It’s a reference-quality release which shows off the benefits of a home theatre set-up, with immersive surround activity, use of subwoofer, and noticeable separation and panning. Even in quieter moments, the track impresses thanks to the professional mixing.
The Martian opens strongly on the audio front; the storm on Mars engages every surround channel, creating the desired illusion that you are there. Dialogue is consistently strong, and it’s well-mixed to ensure that it’s always comprehendible and never overwhelmed by other sound effects or music. It’s all crisp and clean, too, with no muffling or drop-outs. Characters appearing via webcam do sound slightly distorted, but that’s by design of course, and the dialogue is still easy to understand.
Harry Gregson-Williams’ original score is effective as well, while the cornucopia of songs (like David Bowie’s “Starman” and the various disco tracks) sound marvellous in stereo. There are simply no flaws with this exceptional audio track.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
Whereas the last release was pretty barebones, Fox provides a full buffet of supplemental material for this extended cut. It's worth noting that both the original and the extended cuts are available to view on Disc 1, so this set caters for all tastes. In addition, all of the special features on the original release are on this set (the two behind-the-scenes featurettes on the original disc are now part of the larger making-of documentary).
Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott, Drew Goddard and Andy Weir **NEW** Here we have an enormously informative, mostly scene-specific audio commentary with three participants, though Scott's input was recorded separately from Goddard and Weir, who sit down together for their contributions. (Maybe two commentaries were originally planned but the two tracks were mashed together for whatever reason.) There isn't much downtime throughout the commentary as the participants go through a variety of subjects - Weir's writing process, Goddard's reaction to the book, differences compared to the book, Scott's approach to the material, and the scientific inaccuracies (a storm on Mars would never be that intense). James Cameron is also brought up - he gave the screenplay his enthusiastic approval. Thanks to the multiple participants, there's plenty of worthwhile information to glean. The only time the commentary subsides is during the extended scenes. Indeed, it's clear that the commentary was recorded not long after the film's release, before the extended cut was in the can, so there's no commentary during the extra scenes. This is an excellent track; it perfectly complements the film, and it perfectly tops off the extras package.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 4:06) **NEW** Three deleted scenes are available here, totalling an additional four minutes of footage. These were evidently trimmed for time as they don’t add a great deal to the movie. The special effects in the third scene are incomplete.
The Long Way Home: Making The Martian (HD; 79:21) **NEW** Pretty much every Ridley Scott movie since the turn of the century has received an extensive making-of documentary, and now at last Fox has delivered one for The Martian. Rather than a feature-length puff piece, this is a comprehensive, in-depth examination of the production from top to bottom, touching on many different aspects of the filmmaking process, and featuring interviews with all the key players intercut with mountains of on-set footage. I still wish it was longer - the Exodus: Gods and Kings documentary was two-and-a-half hours long, while the making of Prometheus ran a staggering three-and-a-half hours - but this is still far better than the paltry supplements from the original Blu-ray release.
- Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction (11:08) - A fascinating overview of the genesis of the project. Andy Weir, Ridley Scott and Matt Damon all chime in, with Weir even talking about his initial meeting with Drew Goddard about turning the novella into a motion picture. This featurette was on the original BD release.
- The Bleeding Edge: Science and Design (11:59) - As the title implies, this section is dedicated to the production design and the thought process behind all the movie’s science. A range of folks chime in to discuss the creation of the vehicles, the base, and the ships. Fascinating.
- Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes (14:13) - This featurette initially covers the design of the costumes (the filmmakers even talked to NASA), before discussing the movie’s sizable ensemble cast. The key players all get a look-in, and there are plenty of interviews with cast and crew, intercut with mountains of insightful behind-the-scenes footage. The actors also talk about Scott’s on-set demeanour. Good stuff. This featurette was also included on the original BD release.
- Three Worlds Away: Production - Hungary and Jordan (14:16) - Arguably the best segment of this documentary, this much-too-short featurette is focused on the filming itself. Many of the production staff walk through the sets, and talk us through the portions of the movie which were shot on location in the middle of the desert. This is endlessly fascinating, and I wish it was twice as long.
- Wrath of the Red Planet: Stunts and Action (10:14) - A bit of an extension of the previous segment, this featurette is all about shooting the more complex sequences in the movie. The initial storm on Mars is covered, as well as the intricate wirework which went into creating the various zero gravity scenes.
- Bringing Him Home: Post-Production (17:44) - To finish off the documentary, we have a segment covering the post-production process. The Martian is a very effects-heavy movie, thus this featurette has plenty of VFX comparisons and interviews, while the score is touched upon as well. In addition, Fox pushed for an accelerated post-production, which is discussed here.
Investigating Mars (HD) **NEW** Rather than more behind-the-scenes documentaries, this section is concerned with real-life space exploration and science. If you can be bothered enough to sit through two-and-a-half hours of this stuff, it's fairly interesting.
- Dare Mighty Things: NASA’s Journey to Mars (14:47) - This is a very good mini-documentary about the science involved in space travel, and in NASA’s ultimate goal of transporting mankind to Mars.
- The Journey to Mars 101 (122:18) - The most substantial extra on the set, here we have three separate panels concerning the real-life science involved in sending humans to Mars. Andy Weir moderates the first panel, while Bill Nye the Science Guy and Adam Savage moderate the other two, respectively. The final panel with Savage was of most interest to me, as it features Weir, Scott and Drew Goddard, who mainly discuss science fiction in motion picture and how it feeds into real-life science. (Goddard even mentions seeing Blade Runner as a child.)
- Ridley Scott Discusses NASA’s Journey to Mars (1:31) - This is exactly what the title implies.
Gag Reel (HD; 7:33) Out of all the supplements on this Blu-ray, this is what excited me the most. And luckily, it did not disappoint. Over seven minutes of outtakes are included here, with the actors mucking up and generally goofing around. I laughed heartily.
Ares Mission Videos (HD; 30:32) Here we have a collection of faux documentaries and other snippets which featured on the original Blu-ray release of the movie.
- Ares: Our Greatest Adventure (3:39) - This short segment features well-known astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who talks about the Ares mission to Mars, the history of Mars voyages, and the logistics of such a trip. Credit where credit is due: The science sounds believable. But apparently Tyson doesn’t age much between now and 2030.
- The Right Stuff (3:20) - More faux “real” footage, this involves Watney and other crew members being interviewed by a NASA psychologist after ten days in isolation. This could have probably wound up in the film somehow, perhaps even as an end credits thing. Entertaining stuff.
- Leave Your Mark (1:03) - This next piece is a faux commercial for Under Armour featuring Watney wearing their gear and working out, intercut with footage of his space voyage.
- Ares III: Farewell (3:35) - Another in-movie segment, this is day-in-the-life footage of the crew of the Ares, with Watney introducing his team via a live webcam. This is a fun watch, with snide little tweets appearing at the bottom, and little “Crew Facts” popping up throughout. Clever.
- Bring Him Home (1:34) - And just in case we haven’t had enough faux in-movie pieces, we have a montage depicting the entire world showing support for Watney’s ordeal.
- Ares III: Refocused (17:18) - The beefiest segment under this submenu, we have a rather lengthy faux documentary which serves as an extension of the movie. The likes of Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels play their respective roles in interviews talking about the rescue of Watney. The doc purports to have been made seven years after Watney’s rescue, and reveals what some of the characters went on to do after leaving NASA.
Production Art Gallery (HD) There are three galleries here: “Earth,” “Hermes,” and “Mars.” This is all production artwork with no stills or behind-the-scenes photo. You can view the galleries individually or via a “Play All,” and you can opt for either manual navigation or automated slideshow.
Theatrical Trailers (HD; 11:09) Four theatrical trailers are available to view here.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
All editions worldwide are identical, though this set was also released on UHD Blu-ray over in the United States. If you prefer UHD Blu-ray, it would be best to import. Otherwise, buy local.
More than a year after it hit cinemas, The Martian still holds up. It's a crowd-pleasing blockbuster and a cerebral sci-fi adventure rolled into one, and it's a constantly enjoyable watch. And with this extended cut, the film is even stronger.
The technical presentation remains top-flight, and the selection of extras leaves very little to be desired. The Martian is a great movie, and this is a great set. It receives my highest recommendation.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
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|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|