Thursday, 25 August 2016 08:49

Review: Blue-Ray review: The Martian Extended Edition

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The Martian was nominated for seven Academy Awards when it was released in cinemas last year. 

And for this reviewer, rightly so, I enjoyed the book by Andy Weir, and Ridley Scott and his team captured the book pretty much as is when making the flick.

Well, the Extended Edition version of The Martian hits stores today and fans can enjoy two Blu-ray disks packed with extra content.

Let’s start with the extra 10 minutes of footage found here, the deleted scenes are quite subtle, and yet full of the science and humour that is the trademark of the tale.

The two longest excerpts feature Matt Damon as the stranded Mark Watney as well as a longer scene of crew interaction on the spaceship Hermes.

It is the extras on this disk set, however, that make up the bulk of the reason for picking up this title.

Depending on your interest, there should be something here for you.

From the pure notion that writer Andy Weir was keen to promote in his book, that of being as close to science fact as possible, there is plenty of content.

The Investigating Mars live panel presentation and some other shorts titled the Ares Mission Videos cover both the practical ideas and challenges behind a manned mission to Mars in the near future.

Both the discussion and the video presentations tackle many of hurdles that Mark Watney overcomes or avoids in the movie. It is pretty obvious however that there are plenty of other angles to consider when embarking on such a monumental human project. There is also a short gag-reel video, but there were not great laughs to be had in the on-set shenanigans, so that was a little flat.

Director Ridley Scott, executive producer and script writer Drew Goddard and the book’s author Andy Weir provide copious amounts of information as audio commentary over the extended version of the film. Scott is a little dry in his presentation, but that is normal and Goddard and Weir play off each other well as they give insight.

Our favourite extra piece of content in this package ties into the audio commentary somewhat. It is the ubiquitous “making of” documentary.

Unlike other similar themed docos on a film's creation, however, there is an added layer about The Martian that adds extra oomph. That is just how much the team lifted the spirit of science fact from the book, and attempted to incorporate a level of "this is how this would play out in the near future" into everything portrayed.

It was certainly helpful that NASA and the associated Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) along with the Johnson Space Centre and others wanted to be part of the project. Given how heavily they feature in the movie, there was an air of involvement as well as a need to ensure the NASA “brand” was treated as the engineers and scientists of those organisations required.

Making sure the tech was believable and based on real-world engineering was one thing, but then having NASA essentially say “go ahead and create what you think, we get many of our ideas from movies anyway” was a funny moment.

Then there are elements such as the sets, matching indoor studios in Budapest with the deserts of Jordan to create seamless locations that carried the aesthetic through the movie.

Computer animation and lighting, the extensive three axis wire work required to create zero-gravity acting situations and the mysterious audio score are all covered in this engrossing documentary.

The biggest downer for us however was the lack of a 3D cut of the movie, extended or otherwise on the disc.

The Martian is probably somewhat polarising for viewers. We found the book fascinating, bringing drama and humour to even the idea of the calculations required to produce water from hydrazine in order to farm potatoes. But for some people the impending idea of putting people on Mars, and the engineering and sheer brain-power required to make an endeavour such as that come true is not something that grabs them.

For those of us entranced by such a notion, there is 10 minutes more plus hours of documentaries, concepts stills and other content to enjoy with this blu-ray release.

The Martian Extended Edition has landed on Blu-ray & DVD August 24.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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