- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
Ridley Scott has directed some of the most innovative and involving science fiction films in the history of cinema (Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus), and The Martian not only adds luster to his resume but may actually rise to the very top of it. Thrilling, surprising, and even wonderfully amusing on occasion and meticulously put together to make for quite a visual feast, The Martian remains one of 2015’s best films.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hr. 21 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 01/12/2016
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
When a violent surface storm on Mars carries away one of the Ares III crew members and makes it necessary to cut short the mission and leave the planet, Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) and four other crew members regretfully must leave the Red Planet without being able to bring back the body of presumed dead Mark Watney (Matt Damon) for burial. Only Mark isn’t dead, and when he awakens and realizes he’s on his own until those back on Earth can realize he’s alive, he sets out to jerry rig everything that was left behind in order to keep himself alive and healthy hoping a rescue mission of some kind can be launched for him. Back at home, however, there are differing opinions about what must be done once Mark’s status is revealed. NASA director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) always walks a fine line not wanting to jeopardize any future funding by admitting mistakes were made while aeronautics expert Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) wants to move heaven and Earth to get Mark back no matter the cost or embarrassment to the agency. Associate director Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) plays the go-between for these two very different and highly volatile personalities.
Based on the novel by Andy Weir, Drew Goddard’s intricate screenplay walks a fine line between activities on Mars with Mark, in space with the crew of the Ares III mission as they head home, and those back on Earth trying mightily to come up with a viable plan to either rescue Mark or get supplies to him so he can survive his ordeal with minimal discomfort. The trouble, of course, is that the universe doesn’t want to cooperate. For every solution that’s found, another problem caused sometimes by freak occurrences and other times by natural conditions simply throw a wrench in any workable solutions making new plans mandatory and keeping viewer interest heightened. For the first hour of the film, Matt Damon pretty much has himself a one-man show as the audience is drawn increasingly into his corner as his ingeniousness in the face of overwhelming odds and seemingly impossible situations comes to the fore and draws him instantly into our hearts. He’s aided in no small way through Ridley Scott’s incisive direction preventing visual monotony from setting in by allowing us to view Mark through a variety of camera devices (helmet cam, video monitors, computer cameras, dashboard monitors) along with, of course, conventional photography. And the scenes with the crew on board the Hermes are also beautifully photographed in their weightless stages sailing and gliding through corridors of their expansive ship. Though we know Mars is a CGI world as created for the film, it certainly has the look and feel of the real place with the vistas of red dust and rocky formations that seem real enough to touch. Though original author Andy Weir prides himself on the fact-based nature of the science contained in his story, the final rescue attempt does seem to employ more than a bit of dramatic license; it makes for a rousing final mission unquestionably, and the world-joined interest in his rescue is but one of the film’s most accommodating attributes.
Matt Damon makes a perfect everyman for the film, his appealing, occasionally nerdy botanist instantly likable and accessible as he comments on his fellow crewmates’ taste in music and entertainment and keeps himself occupied and entertained as best he can. Humorless Jeff Daniels in his on-going battles with Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and media specialist Kristen Wiig probably has the next biggest role in the film with his adversaries giving equally worthy performances opposite him. Jessica Chastain is solid as a rock as the mission captain while crew members Michael Peña, Sebastian Stan, Kate Mara, and Aksel Hennie all show grace under pressure without ever letting the proceedings get too serious. In smaller roles, Benedict Wong and Donald Glover as engineers tasked with finding solutions offer excellent portrayals in explaining the science without bogging the film down in too much technical jargon (Glover’s show-and-tell explanation of his solution is one of the most delightful sequences in the film’s second half).
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 is faithfully presented in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is never a problem even with the many CG-generated backgrounds present in the film, and color is consistently solid and wonderfully realistic in terms of skin tones. Contrast has been nicely maintained at constant levels while black levels can be very rich and impressively deep. The movie has been divided into 32 chapters.
Reviewer’s Note: Though only the 2D release was sent for review and hence I offer no home video rating for 3D, I was privileged to see the film in 3D in the Fox screening room during the HTF Meet in October, and it’s a very involving use of the process. Depth throughout was beautifully extended in 3D, and the vastness of those Martian landscapes really seemed vividly real in 3D. The rescue sequence that finds Mark in his space capsule with floating debris all around him also made for an impressive use of 3D in the theater.
Audio Rating: 5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix delivers on all counts: aggressive when it needs to be with split atmospheric effects during storms and explosions and blastoffs and quieter but no less appealing during less intense sequences. Harry Gregson-Williams’ background score and a succession of disco hits get a wonderful spread through the front and rear channels. Dialogue has been expertly recorded and comes clearly and distinctly through the center channel.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction (9:36, HD): producers Aditya Sood and Mark Huffam, director Ridley Scott, original novelist Andy Weir, and actors Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, and Chiwetel Ejiofor discuss how their interest in the project came about.
Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes (14:13, HD): in addition to producers Aditya Sood and Simon Kinberg and director Ridley Scott, actors Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, and Kristen Wiig all talk about their characters. Costume designer Janty Yates then talks about her consultations with NASA about the space gear and how it was adapted for filming purposes.
Gag Reel (7:33, HD)
Ares III: Refocused (17:18, HD): a fictional news exposé taking place some seven years after the events shown in the film in which actors Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in character give interviews about their own actions during the crisis and the benefits that hindsight have given them over their decisions.
In World Vignettes (HD): five in-character short pieces featuring the characters in additional scenes that could have been (but never were) a part of the movie.
· Ares III: Farewell (3:35): Mark Watney gives a tour of the spacecraft to a TV audience before the launch.
· The Right Stuff (3:20): the crew gives brief soundbites after they return home.
· Ares: Our Greatest Adventure (3:39): Neil Degrasse Tyson introduces his TV audience to the plans for the Ares mission before the launch.
· Leave Your Mark (1:03): a recruitment promo for astronaut training.
· Bring Him Home (1:34): a news piece on the rescue mission which is uniting the world.
Production Gallery: ninety-seven art images picturing scenes on Earth, on Mars, and in the Hermes.
Theatrical Trailer (2:55, HD)
Digital Copy/Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
A marvelously entertaining science fiction adventure offering us a new slant on Robinson Crusoe on Mars, The Martian makes a lively viewing experience enhanced by the deliriously beautiful picture and sound qualities of this Blu-ray release. Highly recommended!
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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