Adaptation Adventure

'The Martian: Extended Edition' Blu-ray Review: Ridley Scott mans another mission to rescue Matt Damon

June 21, 2016Ben MK

With movies like the classic Alien and its quasi-sequel Prometheus under his belt, directory Ridley Scott can easily be called one of the pioneers of the sci-fi-in-space genre. Now, with the extended edition of The Martian, Scott is revisiting his most recent space-bound blockbuster, a movie that puts the "science" back in "science fiction."

Adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same name by author Andy Weir, The Martian tells the story of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), an astronaut who's mistakenly left for dead on the surface of the red planet, after a freak dust storm separates him from the rest of his Ares III mission crew (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña and Aksel Hennie). Alone and with limited resources, Watney must figure out a way to stay alive on Mars, while both his fellow crew members and NASA's brightest minds come together to mount a rescue.

Luckily, Watney has a few things going for him, namely his boundless ingenuity, his sense of humor and his unwillingness to surrender in the face of adversity. These are traits that Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard leverage to great effect, which in turn makes Damon's solo scenes among the film's most compelling and entertaining. That being said, the movie also features some equally funny and dramatic performances from the rest of the cast, including Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover and Sean Bean.

The Martian ended up winning the award for Best Comedy at the 2016 Golden Globes, which is odd, to say the least. At the same time, it's also extremely fitting, as it perfectly encapsulates just how unquantifiable the movie actually is. If you've seen the film in its theatrical version, you'll know that it seamlessly jumps between comedy, drama, sci-fi and adventure, all without ever missing a beat. And, thankfully, this 10-minute-longer extended cut loses none of the film's charm, adding a few small scenes and subtly improving on what is already a great piece of cinema.

The Martian makes its second journey to Blu-ray with this extended edition, and like the earlier Blu-ray release of the film's theatrical cut, the technical merits of the disc are outstanding. Picture quality is excellent, with a level of clarity that brings out every minute detail on the Ares crew's space suits and the rocky Martian terrain; colors are robust, especially the red hues that characterize exterior scenes on Mars; and black levels and contrast are unparalleled. Audio-wise, The Martian boasts the same DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix that accompanied the previous release, which still proves impressive, delivering crystal-clear dialogue and feel-good music from the likes of ABBA, Donna Summer and David Bowie, as well as more active use of audio channels to surround viewers in the high winds of a Martian sandstorm, and to rock them out of their seats with a couple of floor-shaking explosions.

Fox's two-disc Blu-ray release includes both the theatrical and the extended versions of the film on disc one, in addition to an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy and the following extras (most of which can be found on disc two):

  • Audio Commentary with Ridley Scott, Drew Goddard and Andy Weir - Available on both the theatrical and the extended edition, this commentary touches on such topics as the differences between the movie and the book, the visual effects, the story's deviations from real-world science, the development of the original novel, and more.
  • Deleted Scenes (4:06) - Three scenes ("Mark Calculating Rover Travel Distances," "Hermes Crew Discuss Sleeping Arrangements" and "Mark Looks at Earth from Hermes With Final VO").
  • The Long Way Home: Making The Martian (1:19:21) - A six-part making-of documentary. Part one ("Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction") takes a look at Andy Weir's original novel, the science and humor inherent in the story, and its themes of humanity. Part two ("The Bleeding Edge: Science and Design") examines the film's production design, its grounding in scientific reality, and the process of realizing the sets and vehicles for the big screen. Part three ("Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes") is all about the cast and the space suit designs. Part four ("Three Worlds Away: Production - Hungary and Jordan") speaks to the film shoot in the CET complex and at Korda Studios in Budapest, as well as the logistics of filming in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. Part five ("Wrath of the Red Planet: Stunts and Action") takes a look at the filming of the opening storm sequence, as well as the wire-work used to simulate zero gravity. And part six ("Bringing Him Home: Post-Production") provides insight about the visual effects, the editing and the score.
  • Dare Mighty Things: NASA's Journey to Mars (14:47) - A look at NASA's three-stage plan to send humans to Mars in the late 2030s.
  • The Journey to Mars 101 (2:02:18) - A three-part Q&A series. In part one ("NASA's Journey to Mars"), author Andy Weir moderates a panel about NASA's journey to Mars. In part two ("Living on Mars and Beyond"), Bill Nye does the same for the topic of a permanent human presence on Mars. And in part three ("Why Science Fiction Inspires Me"), Adam Savage turns the tables of Weir, Ridley Scott and Drew Goddard, to discuss why science fiction inspires them.
  • Ridley Scott Discusses NASA's Journey to Mars (1:31) - Scott talks briefly about the logistics of the journey, as well as NASA's preparation for the mission.
  • Gag Reel (7:33) - Flubs, goofs and general silliness from the set.
  • Ares Mission Videos (30:32) - Six videos that highlight the mission, its crew and its final outcome ("Ares: Our Greatest Adventure," "The Right Stuff," "Leave Your Mark," "Ares III: Farewell," "Bring Him Home" and "Ares III: Refocused").
  • Production Art Gallery - Three galleries of still images ("Earth," "Hermes" and "Mars"), containing a total of 196 pieces of concept art.
  • Theatrical Trailers (11:09) - Four trailers ("Trailer A," "Trailer B," "Trailer G" and "Trailer R").

The Martian: Extended Edition is available from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment as of June 7th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 21 Mins (Theatrical Edition) and 2 Hrs. 31 Minutes (Extended Edition).

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