The Martian Blu-ray Review
From a critic’s viewpoint, 2015 was a very difficult year to narrow down some of the best movies. There was a decent palate of genres and it seems like everyone was clicking on all cylinders. There was the obvious indie fodder (CAROL), the Oscar bait movies (DANISH GIRL), and even the blockbusters that managed to break through the mold (MAD MAX:FURY ROAD). THE MARTIAN could have easily been released over the summer and made a killing at the box office. It’s perfect entertainment for a mass audience, and smart enough for a narrower minded crowd.
I’ve never associated award deserving performances with Matt Damon until now. Sure there’s GOOD WILL HUNTING, but Damon had so much content to bounce off his stellar castmates. In THE MARTIAN, there are so many scenes where he has to carry the weight of the story and has to continue to lug around Mark Watney’s crazy adventure. When Damon needs to carry this movie through Watney’s loneliness, he does. When he needs to entertain his “audience” with nothing, but a computer generated desolate wasteland and a spreadsheet of numbers, he excels.
After a freak accident in a freak storm on the red planet, Mark’s fellow scientists and space travelers abandon him, assuming he has died. Mark awakes alone, but takes the newfound despondency in stride. He realizes that he may not have enough food to last until the next expedition to Mars, but instead of wallowing in the crippling abandonment and daily threat of death he faces, he endeavors. You’ve most likely heard that THE MARTIAN is CAST AWAY on a foreign planet, and that’s honestly the best summation.
But while CAST AWAY focused a lot on despair, THE MARTIAN distances itself from that harsh reality. There should be a lot about the sinking sadness that Mark is experiencing, as well as the anxiety that riddles his mind, but there isn’t. There are a lot of jokes, optimism, and scenes of advanced chemistry and science that are presented in the fashion of an episode of MYTHBUSTERS.
THE MARTIAN is one of the best movies of the year, but it can’t all be attributed to Matt Damon. A lot of credit goes to Ridley Scott who’s ventured into space before. He finds a blissful balance between Mark’s lonely new life and the people on other who scurry about, hoping to bring Mark back home. Leading the way at NASA is Teddy Sanders (Daniels), who’s surrounded by a slew of helpful advisors and equally outstanding actors and actresses. There’s an argument to be made that THE MARTIAN has one of the best ensemble casts of the year. Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, and Jessica Chastain are just a few of the names and faces you’ll recognize.
For the average movie goer though, THE MARTIAN is a smart, crisp, gorgeous, funny, thoughtful, and pleasant surprise. Most of the sci-fi movies we find ourselves in give us a horror twist or add a large thematic theme about life. Simple is never a bad thing, if it’s done right, isn’t stupid, and can entertain people for generations to come. THE MARTIAN has that quality because it simplifies a complicated tale into a human, lighthearted package. If there’s a mainstream underdog to root for at the Oscars this year, it’s THE MARTIAN.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) Ridley Scott’s pristine and wonderful vision of an Andy Weir novel is captured wonderfully on this Blu-ray. Not a single blemish or problem.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) From the disco Mark has to listen to, to the roaring sounds of a takeoff, everything comes in clearly on this Blu-ray.
Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction (9:36): This may be the best feature on the Blu-ray because it features interviews with Ridley Scott and Andy Weir. Offers insights into Weir’s concerns and how Scott made sure to respect and bring-to-life, Weir’s vision.
Occupy Mars: Casting and Costume (14:13): This is a good feature because of the various interviews with a lot of the supporting cast. As for the costumes, it’s not really my thing, but it does provide sufficient coverage of that aspect.
Gag Reel (7:33): Inherently this can be a comedy so it makes sense that there is a gag reel. It’s an alright gag reel.
Ares III: Refocused (17:18): This is a fake documentary about Watney’s predicament. It’d be like a History Channel piece in the world of THE MARTIAN. Kind of boring.
Ares III: Farewell (3:35): Another faux documentary, this one feature Watney who introduces the crew.
The Right Stuff (3:20): Is not a fake documentary, but is supposedly documentation of the crew’s experiences with isolation training.
Ares: Our Greatest Adventure (3:39): This fake documentary is like a PBS special, mainly because it features Neil de Grasse Tyson. He talks about the Ares trip and what it means in the grand scheme of things.
Leave Your Mark (1:03): An Under Armour commercial profiling Mark Watney. Not sure if this is shameless or not.
Bring Him Home (1:34): Another bizarre commercial, but this one doesn’t plug anything. Simply focuses on the global support to bring Watney home.
Production Art Gallery: Offers a manual and auto set-up to look through photos.