HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Martian: Extended Cut
HTS Overall Score:89
Space, the final frontier. There’s not a day goes by that some little boy or girl looks up to the stars and wonders what it would be like to be an astronaut. I know I had plenty of fantasies and re-entries into Earth’s atmosphere using an old refrigerator box and some swimming goggles from my brother’s desk. What makes space so astronomically scary is that while things can be uncontrollable and terrifying on our little blue rock, the world outside of our solar system is so much harsher and so awe inspiring with its ferocity. Get stuck down at the bottom of the ocean, we might be able to get divers down there in a few days tops. Get stuck at the bottom of a Latin American mine shaft? Easy, start drilling. Get lost out on Mars when no one thinks you’re alive. That’s a whole different ball of wax.
Andy Weir acts as the catalyst for this film, having written the book years ago and actually had it self-published, as few publishing houses wanted anything to do with it. Fast forward to 2015 and it’s suddenly turned into a blockbuster with Ridley Scott at the helm. I was one of the few people who actually missed the theatrical showing of “The Martian” due to the fact that I honestly didn’t think Ridley had it in him anymore. After “Prometheus” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” I was convinced that the famed director of “Alien” had lost his touch completely. Thus I was more than a bit surprised when I bought the Blu-ray on a whim and ended up loving the film a LOT. This new version with 10 minutes of extended footage really doesn’t add anything to the film content wise. In fact most of the extended information is barely noticeable unless you watch the two versions back to back. Thankfully the extras included on the disc more than make up for the lackluster “extended” version of the film itself, and the 4K version looks simply stunning.
While a manned mission to mars is still some 15 years in the theoretical future, the novel (and thus the film) would have us believe that man has been going to Mars for a while. Now the latest mission, with the Ares IV spacecraft, is just finishing up a mission collecting soil samples and the like when a huge Martian storm hits, nearly obliterating the landing craft. With no choice but to blast off into orbit and make an early trip home, Captain Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) makes the decision of leaving botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) behind on the surface after he is presumed dead from an evo-suit leak. Low and behold Mark Watney actually DIDN’T die, but is now left stranded on Mars unless he can get a message to Earth. Not only that, even if he DOES get a message to Earth, it will take another 4 years before the next available mission can come and pick him. Which doesn’t bode well for the poor guy as he has less than a year of food left in the Mars base.
Well, get a message home he does, and now it’s up to the smartest minds in America to figure out a way to bring the Astronaut home. Head of Nasa, Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) is not so keen on trying to rescue him, but once word is leaked to the public that Mark is alive on Mars, they have no choice but to attempt a rescue mission. While the big wigs back home are trying to figure out a way to GET to Mars, Mark is just trying to figure out a way to survive on the hostile planet. With only limited food in store, he has to figure out a way to grow food on the hostile alien world, as well as keep himself from dying due to the harsh ecological environment of the planet.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=73481[/img]What makes the film really work is complicated, but there are several stand out elements that really contribute to the overall smash success of the film. For one, Ridley Scott feels like a much younger man here, directing with the soft touch that was indicative of his earlier work, rather than the jumbled messes that he has made in the last several film outings. Matt Damon is a centerpiece of the film, and really does a solo act for large portions of the film, talking directly to a recording device rather than interacting with other characters on screen (which is a tough feat as an actor). Mark Watney’s light sense of humor keeps the story flowing naturally, without going into huge layers of depression that very well could have slowed the pacing of the story down quite a bit if left unchecked. Still, there is a sense of urgency and frustration that sometimes seeps into the story, rightfully so considering the odds the botanist is up against.
While Matt cuts it up with a fantastic solo act, the rest of the crew and members of NASA showcase an incredible array of acting talent to back him up. Chiwetel Ejiofor does an amazing job as Vincent Kapoor, while Sean Bean does a fantastic job of actually NOT dying in a movie for once as NASA supervisor Mitch Henderson. I was almost shocked to see that Kristen Wiig had ZERO humorous moments in the film, and this acts as one of the very few times I have not seen her in a comedic role. Chastain is magnificent as the emotionally conflicted Captain Lewis, while the rest of the actors fall naturally into their respective roles with what seems like effortless ease.
“The Martian” is a magnificent film, and while it certainly does have the clichéd heart tugging happy ending, the inclusion of some very realistic use of science makes for an incredibly exhilarating ride. The movie runs at over 2.5 hours and some seconds, but not once does it FEEL like a 2.5 hour movie. I was sitting at the edge of my seat the entire time and only once or twice noticed that I was nearing the 2 hour mark before becoming absorbed into the tale once more.
Rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=73489[/img]While I’m usually of the opinion that most 4K UltraHD releases so far have been just a “good” upgrade over their 1080 Blu-ray counterparts, there a few that really show off the quality that the format has to offer. “Star Trek 2009” and “Into Darkness” were the first two that really made my jaw drop, and this version of “The Martian” does the same thing. I know it wasn’t given a full 4K source from the digital photography, but the image just looks noticeably better and cleaner. There is less noise in the image, and the blacks just seem to have this silky depth to them that limit crush from showing up (which is always a problem on Blu-rays, even the best looking ones will show SOME crush due to the encoding limitations). Fine detailing is just that much more precise, with the ability to show off individual grains of sand against the red Mars backdrop. Simply put, it’s very worthy upgrade from the 1080p AVC encoding that I A/B’d against. There is still some softness due to the CGI blending, but that is never going to go away, no matter how good the encode is.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=73497[/img]“The Martian” and its original Blu-ray and 4K release was a bit disappointing with the exclusion of a Dolby Atmos track. Don’t get me wrong, that 7.1 DTS-HD MA track that was present on both was exceptional, and had I not heard this Atmos version I would easily have given it a 5/5 rating at the time. However this 4K edition sports the nice upgrade of having a true Dolby Atmos track on board and it is well worth the wait. The track just adds another layer of dimensionality to the experience, especially if you pay attention to the sand storm at the beginning of the movie that I mentioned in the Blu-ray review. There is some amazing use of the height channels, allowing the storm to more fully encompass the listener, and the directionality shifts are much more precise and seemingly random instead of relying on the classic 7.1 track’s use of special differences. The LFE is a little more pronounced, but not drastically so, and the dialog is just as crisp and clear as before. A very solid upgrade to the disc, and easily one of the selling points for those who are considering the 4K upgrade.
• Audio Commentary with Ridley Scott, Drew Goddard and Andy Weir
“The Martian” is a complete blast from beginning to end, although I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed in the 10 minutes of extended footage. None of the material really felt like it added anything at all to the overall story, and while it didn’t DETRACT from the experience, its inclusion was really superfluous and unnecessary. The real addition to this set is the special features. All of the original release’s extras are tossed into this package (some are rolled up into new special feature) and there is also a very in depth audio commentary that is INCREDIBLY fascinating. For those of you who want to upgrade form the old Blu-ray and are NOT interested in special features may be disspaointed, but for those who find those features worth looking into, then the double dip is much less problematic. However, if you have NOT had the pleasure of purchasing this film on Blu-ray, or 4K then this is easily the definitive release with more special features than you can shake a stick at as well as both the theatrical and the Extended cut on the same disc. The only downside to the 4K disc itself is that it only contains the audio commentary that was present on Disc one of the Blu-ray, and all of the other special features are just included on the Blu-ray itself, thus the score is adjusted.
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Drew Goddard (Screenplay), Andy Weir (Book)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Runtime: 141 Minutes (Theatrical), 151 Minutes (Extended)
Blu-ray Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Buy The Martian: Extended Cut On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy The Martian: Extended Cut On 4K UltraHD Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Must Watch
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