Blu-ray Review: The Martian - Extended Edition

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The Martian was a very popular dud in theaters during the late months of 2015. It raked in beaucoup bucks worldwide and received plenty of awards-season love (including an incomprehensible Best Comedy win courtesy of the Golden Globes). Though already on home video earlier this year, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has seized the opportunity to double-dip with this "extended version." There's an extra ten minutes of footage laced throughout, making this version a full two-and-a-half hours. With its thin plotting, by-the-numbers The Martian was already a half-hour too long before adding to it. That said, if you happen to be among the film's hoards of fans and don't already own it, the new two-disc Blu-ray is the way to go. It also contains the theatrical cut.

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. 

Martian 2 (380x191).jpg 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. 
 
Martian jeff daniels.jpg 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. 

Even in the harsh environment of Mars, things seem to always go Mark's way throughout The Martian. Even in the face of the greatest adversity, Mark just seems to figure out a way to jump every hurdle. Director Scott, however great his top achievements (Alien, Blade Runner) are, is spinning his wheels here with a story that simply can't gain any traction. Perhaps at a trim 90 minutes, The Martian might've been a slam-bang piece of entertainment (the tantalizing theatrical trailer promised). But as it is, The Martian is simultaneously too much (too many characters, too long a running time) and too little (not enough suspense and plot turns).

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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