Though the extra footage doesn't do anything to improve the film (having only seen it once previously, I wasn't even sure what was new), there are significant new special features. Disc one contains a commentary featuring director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Drew Goddard, and Andy Weir (author of the source novel). Even better is "The Long Way Home: Making The Martian," which is a mostly-new series of featurettes (79-minutes total) that should satisfy fans who felt the previous edition skimped on behind-the-scenes material. If you (like me) don't quite have the time and/or patience to sit through an entire audio commentary, this series is an excellent alternative.
But the new edition packs in a ton more supplements, including a massive, two-hour documentary The Journey to Mars 101. This one brings in a bunch of NASA personnel and deals with the scientific realities of a future manned mission to the red planet. Credit Fox with definitely giving consumers' their money's worth—there are also a a couple shorter featurettes, four minutes of deleted scenes, and a the features from the previous Blu-ray ported over. Tech specs are beyond reproach. The 1080p transfer looks great throughout, with no discernible difference between the newly added footage and the original theatrical cut. Audio is a robust DTS-HD MA 7.1 track.
The movie itself is admittedly entertaining in a breezy way, but talk about wasting a great cast. Matt Damon delivers a perpetually smirking performance as Mark Watney, an astronaut abandoned on Mars after his crew believes he died in a dust storm. Apparently unflappable even in the direst of circumstances, Mark is a quipster with a one-liner at the ready at all times. It's an absolutely unchallenging role for Damon and, while likable, just isn't memorable. We don't feel the emotional turmoil of his crisis. Among his crew members (the one who are Earthbound, unaware that Watney managed to survive his ordeal): Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Michael Peña. Not one of them is given a real character to play—they might as well have cast unknowns. Back on Earth at mission control are Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sean Bean, each of them similarly stranded with one-note characters.