Published on August 25th, 2016 | by Damien Straker
The Martian Extended Edition Blu-ray Review
Summary: The Martian isn't a great film but at the very least it shows that there is still some life left inside of Ridley Scott's directorial efforts.
The Martian Extended Edition on Blu-ray goes even deeper into this film by director Ridley Scott by giving us over two hours of additional special features but more importantly, it delivers an extended version of the film. Sure it’s only an additional 10 minutes but it does help flesh out some of the scenes in the movie and slightly expands on the story or the psyche of Astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon). These additional scenes happen on both Earth and Mars but what I found interesting is that it expands the survival aspect of Watney and there’s an interesting scene at the end that has him reflecting on his miraculous journey. The first disc in this collection has both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film plus commentary by Ridley Scott, writer Drew Goddard and the author of the original novel, Andy Weir. As expected, the commentary is the same on both releases but it would have been nice to give some additional insight with these extra scenes like the meaning behind them or why they were cut from the theatrical release.
So let’s talk about the film in detail, The Martian is adapted by screenwriter Drew Goddard from Andy Weir’s book and focuses on Mark Watney, who is an astronaut and biologist left behind on Mars after his crew (Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Kate Mara) abandons the red surface and believes he has died. Wounded, Mark uses his skills and resources as a biologist to inhabit and live on the red planet. He uses feces for example as fertiliser so that he can grow tiny plants and consequently, potatoes that he can eat. Whether this is plausible or not isn’t up for debate. Rather, it’s refreshing how the film makes the action practical for its main character, focussing on his resourcefulness rather than bombastic special elements and fight scenes. This is a gentler blockbuster and also one with an unexpected funny bone, freeing it from the self-seriousness pretentions that engulfed Interstellar—the film to which it’s regularly compared.
However, more could have been made of Mark’s isolation and the terror of being the single person alone on the planet. Compromises are made which offset the isolation, including Matt Damon’s persistent narration to a camera (and the audience) as he documents his journey. Using pop tunes such as ABBA from a music collection of one of Mark’s crew members is also like an offshoot of brighter sci-fi films such as Guardians of the Galaxy. Matt Damon is very charismatic, funny and likable in the lead role but a shade of seriousness and trauma is missing from his performance. Rather than countering the film’s commercial elements, such as its humour and its bright tone with a dose of realism and psychology, Mark resorts to jokes and punchlines, which makes him too relaxed for the singular person on the planet. One shot which demonstrates Mark’s physical deterioration is late in the piece, when his wilted frame emerges from a shower.
Mark is not entirely alone throughout the film because it also extends into earth scenes, which thematically stress the ethics of media and control. The closest the film has to a villain, there are thankfully no aliens or monsters, is Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels who is excellent), the director of NASA. He is reluctant to tell the crew about Mark still being alive and also stalls a rescue operation because he is more concerned about the pictures being posted, which would reveal the carelessness of the operation. In one sequence, he also opts to skim through a safety protocol to fast-track the launch of a rocket. Whereas Mark rations his food and counts his resources, Teddy is equally calculated in his strategies, opting to take shortcuts if its more convenient. Is Teddy perhaps representing the over controlling studio boss who wants production rushed and is pitted against micromanagement and attention to detail? There are other strong actors here, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Sean Bean and Jessica Chastain, who make memorable impressions with their roles and overcome the script’s lack of backstory and inner lives.
The highlight of the special features from this release includes the excellent The Long Way Home: Making Of The Martian which is a documentary that not only goes into the film itself but also looks at the future plans for NASA to visit the red planet. The gag reel is always good for a laugh and shows the human side of the film and the production art gallery is a nice insight into the creation process with some exceptional artwork. All in all, the special features on this release go into great detail of how the film was made, including the real science and possibilities for mankind to visit this planet in the not so distant future.
- Theatrical Cut Of The Film (141 Mins)
- Extended Cut Of The Film (151 Mins)
- Audio Commentary By Ridley Scott, Drew Goddard & Andy Weir
- Deleted Scenes
- The Long Way Home: Making Of The Martian
- Investigating Mars
- Gag Reel
- Ares Mission Videos
- Production Art Gallery
As a showpiece of spatiality, The Martian is predictably an impressive specimen. The film has generally high production values, expected at this level, but most surprising is the way in which the effects are gently pushed into the frame to enhance the shape of the spacecraft’s passageways or the vast open spaces of the red planet itself. The shots of Mark sitting alone in the open are examples of when the film conveys the empty plains of Mars and his detachment from humanity. Once the film overcomes the weight of some of its scientific jargon in the dialogue, which can be intimidating late in the film, it also becomes an exciting rescue mission. The finale is staged with an impressive amount of tension and great skill from this experienced director. It may not be Ridley Scott’s most impressive film but it shows that after decades in the industry, he remains entirely capable of fine craftsmanship.
The Martian Extended Edition is landing on Blu-ray & DVD August 24.
Director – Ridley Scott
Actors – Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Film Genre – Sci-Fi
Label – 20th Century Fox
Audio – English (DTS-HD 7.1)
Subtitles – English
Running Time – 141
Aspect Ratio – 2.40:1
Region Coding – B (Blu-Ray)
TV Standard – PAL
Rating – M
Year of Release – 2015
Primary Format – Movies/TV – Blu-Ray