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Ridley Scott
Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ojiofor
Writing Credits:
Drew Goddard

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

Box Office:
$108 Million.
Opening Weekend
$54,308,575 on 3,831 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13/Unrated

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1 (Theatrical Only)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 141 min. (Theatrical Version)
151 min. (Extended Edition)
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 6/7/2016
• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Ridley Scott, Novelist Andy Weir and Screenwriter Drew Goddard
• Three Deleted Scenes
• “The Long Way Home: Making The Martian” Documentary
• “Investigating Mars” Segments
• Gag Reel
• Ares Mission Videos
• Production Art Gallery
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Martian: Extended Edition [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 9, 2016)

Most folks in their late 70s play bingo and complain that their kids never call. At 77, not only does Ridley Scott refuse to retire, but also he continues to maintain true cultural relevance.

While it seems unlikely Scott will produce another film as influential/durable as either 1979’s Alien or 1982’s Blade Runner, that doesn’t mean the old man has slid toward obscurity. Indeed, the opposite seems true, as 2015’s The Martian became Scott’s highest-grossing film ever.

In 2035, a manned mission to Mars encounters an emergency when an unexpected sandstorm hits the team. All of the astronauts make it back to their ship – except for Mark Watney (Matt Damon), a botanist who gets hit by part of an antenna and dies. Unable to retrieve his body due to the emergency, the team leaves without him.

Except Watney isn’t dead. The botanist remains alive and needs to rely on all his skills to stay that way until another team can rescue him. As Watney uses his talents to farm food on a desolate planet, NASA works overtime to figure out how to bring him home.

Not only does Martian present Ridley Scott’s most successful movie since 2000’s Gladiator, but also it offers almost certainly his most entertaining movie over that time frame. I have to say “almost” simply because I’ve not seen all of Scott’s 21st century films – I missed a couple such as Exodus: Gods and Men and A Good Year.

That forces the caveat into my comments, but I remain pretty sure that I like Martian more than I’d enjoy those movies I skipped. I know for certain that Martian easily tops disappointments like Prometheus and bombs like The Counselor. From beginning to end, Martian offers a lively, entertaining and involving tale.

But – and you knew there was a “but” on the horizon – this doesn’t make Martian a great piece of work, partially because the fun and excitement come with a price. The characters and story seem awfully superficial, especially in terms of Watney. He remains so glib and chipper throughout his ordeal that the result becomes impossible to believe – Watney shows almost no signs of the psychological damage that would inevitably ensue from such an extended period of isolation.

Much of this comes out through the film’s humor. Martian pours on wisecracks and jokes, and these seem fine to a degree. However, they pop up too often and the movie never balances them with any attempt to show how that isolation would negatively impact the character. Watney feels like a guy who gets a “bachelor’s weekend” to himself with the wife out of town, not a man desperate for survival.

I think Martian seems rather derivative as well. Essentially it exists as a combination of Cast Away and Apollo 13, though without the psychological depth of either film.

As we watch Cast Away and/or Apollo 13, we experience real tension. We fear for the characters and worry about their fates – even though we know a) the Apollo astronauts survive and b) Tom Hanks will be rescued, we remain invested in their journeys.

This seems less true for Watney – again, due to the perky ‘n’ bubbly treatment of his experiences. I don’t blame Damon, as the actor does his damnedest to add depth to the role – whatever nuances exist in Watney come straight from Damon. It’s the script that lets down the character, as it never allows Watney to develop into anything more than “MacGyver on Mars”.

The remaining actors do fine in their even-more-underwritten parts – except perhaps for Jeff Daniels as NASA Director Teddy Sanders. While I don’t think Daniels offers poor work, he seems to channel his semi-sanctimonious lead character from The Newsroom too much of the time, and this leaves his performance as one that feels “off” to me. I don’t dislike the character but I just don’t buy Daniels as the head of NASA.

I don’t want to be too critical of The Martian, for I really do enjoy it. The movie moves at a fine pace and provides a lot of excitement along the way. It suffers from few lulls and keeps us entertained across its 141 minutes.

I simply think it could – and should – have been meatier than it is. The Martian offers a solid popcorn movie that might’ve stuck with me more if it managed additional meaning and depth.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus A

The Martian appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image consistently looked strong.

I noticed no obvious issues with sharpness. From start to finish, the movie offered nice clarity and definition. Some video screens showed a smidgen of shimmering, but those were minor, and I saw no jaggies or edge haloes. Print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

I thought Martian went with a standard teal and orange palette, but at least the orange made sense, given the Martian setting. The hues displayed appropriate clarity and vivacity. Blacks seemed dense and dark, while low-light shots boasted nice smoothness and delineation. This ended up as an impressive transfer.

Not to be outdone, the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack fared very well. When the movie stayed with general atmosphere, it felt convincing and immersive, and the chances for greater life blossomed in a satisfying manner. From the sandstorm that injured Watney to various space elements to other threatening aspects of Martian life, the soundfield used all the channels in an engaging, engrossing manner.

Audio quality succeeded. Speech remained distinctive and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music showed nice range and warmth, while effects appeared dynamic and full. We got good low-end response and nary a hint of distortion. I thought the audio added a lot to the experience.

Whereas the original Blu-ray came with only the movie’s theatrical version (2:21:37), this package adds an extended edition (2:31:20) as well. What does that extra 10 minutes or so bring to the viewer?

Not much, honestly, as the majority of the new material stems from extensions to existing scenes. These add a few more character moments and embellishments but they don’t improve the film.

I think only one totally new sequence appears: a scene in which Watney works to complete NASA’s original mission on Mars. This delivers some fun but it seems pretty extraneous.

Because I don’t own a spare copy of the theatrical cut, I couldn’t do a direct comparison between the two, so I needed to rely on my memory of two screenings of the 141-minute version. That means I might’ve missed something, but I remain pretty sure that the “mission completion” sequence offers the only “major” new addition. The rest of it seems to be short bits and pieces along the way.

If forced to pick, I’d choose the theatrical edition as the more appealing of the two. The longer version doesn’t alleviate any problems I see in the shorter one, and the new material fails to expand story/characters in a significant way. I’m happy I got to view the Extended Edition, but I prefer the theatrical release by a small margin – the EE works fine but lacks much purpose.

New to this release, we find an audio commentary with director Ridley Scott, novelist Andy Weir and screenwriter Drew Goddard. Scott provides one running, screen-specific chat and the writers sit together for their own running, screen-specific discussion; the end result blends the two separate commentaries. The men cover the source novel and its adaptation, story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, cinematography, music, various effects, editing and connected domains.

While I’d prefer all three men to participate in one session, this “combined commentary” works fine. Fans who’ve heard prior Scott tracks will know what to expect: a good look at the production that occasionally sputters because Ridley likes to describe what we see onscreen. Scott offers more good than bad, though.

Goddard and Weir bring us the most entertainment value, though, as they show good commentary chemistry. Logically, they focus on story/character topics and they cover those realms well. All together, the two pieces combine for one satisfying commentary.

One subject you won’t hear discussed in the commentary: changes made for the Extended Edition. Though the Blu-ray lets you play the commentary alongside either the theatrical or the Extended cuts, the track only covers material in the shorter version.

If you play the track with the Extended version, this means dead air whenever the added scenes appear. This isn’t a terrible burden given the fact that the Extended Edition isn’t that much longer, but I’d still recommend you listen to the commentary with the theatrical cut – it gives you the same information in less time.

Other than the commentary, all the extras show up on Disc Two. Three Deleted Scenes appear: “Mark Calculates Rover Travel Distances” (0:45), “Hermes Crew Discuss Sleeping Arrangements” (1:54) and “Mark Looks At Earth From Hermes With Final VO” (1:32).

Given that the additions to the Extended Edition are fairly inconsequential, should we expect anything much from these? Not really. They’re watchable but ordinary.

The six sections of a documentary called The Long Way Home: Making The Martian fill a total of one hour, 19 minutes, 21 seconds. Across these segments, we hear from Scott, Weir, producers Aditya Sood and Simon Kinberg, executive producer Mark Huffam, NASA Planetary Science Division director James L. Green, production designer Arthur Max, astronaut advisor Rudi Schmidt, greensman Roger Holden, supervising vehicles FX technician Glenn Marsh, vehicles senior art director Oliver Hodge, costume designer Janty Yates, stunt performers Leonard Woodcock and Will Willougby, visual effects shoot supervisor Matt Sloan, production services manager Sharif Majali, production manager James Grant, vehicles senior art director Oliver Hodge, director of photography Dariusz Wolski, stunt coordinator Rob Inch, visual effects supervisors Tim Ledbury, Chris Lawrence and Richard Stammers, visual effects producer Barrie Hemsley, digital supervisor James D. Fleming, virtual production supervisor Casey Schatz, editor Pietro Scalia, associate producer Teresa Kelly, composer Harry Gregson-Williams and actors Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, and Sean Bean.

“Home” looks at the original novel and its move to the screen, story/character/script choices, science vs. fiction, and visual/production design. It also covers vehicles, ships and costumes, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts/action, visual effects, editing, and music.

With so much time at its disposal, “Home” touches on all the expected topics, and it does so in a successful manner. We learn a lot about the film and get many good glimpses of the production. “Home” turns into an engaging, informative piece.

Under Investigating Mars, we locate three clips. “Dare Mighty Things: NASA’s Journey to Mars” lasts 14 minutes, 47 seconds and provides details from James Green, systems engineer Mallory Lefland, JPL director Charles Elachi, NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan, NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., and flight system engineer Bobak Ferdowski. “Dare” gives us notes about prospects for space travel to Mars. It delivers a tight little overview.

The disc’s longest piece, “The Journey to Mars 101” spans two hours, two minutes, 18 seconds. A panel discussion hosted by Weir occupies the first 47 minutes. It includes astronaut Kjell Lindgren, NASA Lead Scientist for Mars Exploration Michael Meyer, NASA JPL Mars Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper, and NASA’s Program Executive for Solar System Exploration Dave Lavery. They discuss challenges related to Mars missions as well as technological areas and connected domains.

Once that panel ends, we get another that runs about 48 minutes. Hosted by Bill Nye, this one involves White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director Tom Kalil, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s Dr. Mason Peck, MIT Director of Center for Bits and Atoms Neil Gershenfeld, and Drawbridge Health Incorporated CTO Dr. Alicia Jackson. In their discussion, they examine issues related to establishing life on Mars.

Finally, a third panel takes up the final 37 minutes of “101”. Led by science educator Adam Savage, this one features Ridley Scott, Andrew Weir, and Drew Goddard. In this case, we look at how science fiction inspires them.

All together, these panels combine to deliver a lot of good information. The filmmaker panel can be a little redundant after the commentary, but it still works well, and the other two offer intriguing ideas about space exploration. Plenty of interesting material emerges in these informative chats.

Finally, “Ridley Scott Discusses NASA’s Journey to Mars” goes for a mere one minute, 31 seconds. He offers a general discussion of plans to go to Mars. It’s a brief and glossy recap.

A Gag Reel lasts seven minutes, 33 seconds. It shows the usual assortment of mistakes and silliness. Nothing especially interesting emerges.

Under Ares Mission Videos, we find “theatrical in-world pieces” with the movie’s fictional characters. We see “Ares III: Farewell” (3:35), “The Right Stuff” (3:20), “Ares: Our Greatest Adventure” (3:39), “Leave Your Mark” (1:03) and “Bring Him Home” (1:34).

These provide promotional pieces in which we see some aspects of the movie’s characters/situations. They feel a little like deleted scenes; none of them provide substantial information, but they’re enjoyable. They actually add a little depth to some of the topics, so they might be worth a look before you watch the movie.

In addition to four trailers, we locate a Production Art Gallery. It breaks into “Earth” (8 images), “Hermes” (74) and “Mars” (124). These add up to an interesting collection of materials.

Does the “Extended” package lose anything from the original Blu-ray? Yes – it axes a short that followed up on some characters as well as some behind the scenes featurettes. The long documentary wraps up the subjects in the featurettes, so they don’t go missed, but it’s too bad the fun character piece doesn’t reappear here.

At its heart, The Martian offers a lively tale of survival amidst difficult odds. I wish the film provided more meaning and depth, but I still think it gives us an entertaining adventure. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio as well as a terrific batch of bonus materials. The Martian becomes a fun flick, though the Extended Edition doesn’t improve the theatrical cut.

To rate this film visit the original review of THE MARTIAN

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main