Let me get this out of the way: I love the movie The Martian. It was one of my favorite films of 2015. If you have not seen The Martian, I implore you to see it.
I have seen The Martian four times now. Once in the theater in 3D (the 3D was neat, but not worth it). Twice on Blu-ray as the theatrical release. Now a fourth time on 4k UHD Blu-ray in the form of the Extended Edition. I have read the book twice and listened to the audiobook once (the audiobook is particularly good because the narrator R.C. Bray perfectly captures the personality of Watney). Yes, I am a fan of The Martian.
The Martian is about an astronaut who is mistakenly left for dead on the planet Mars after a huge storm hits the habitat where the mission crew is staying. The astronaut is Mark Watney (Matt Damon) and he is a botanist. The story is broken into three different stories, the main one about Watney surviving on Mars and waiting for a rescue. The story of the crew of the Hermes (the large spacecraft that is carrying the crew of the Aries mission back to Earth). And finally, the Earth-bound story of NASA trying to figure out how to get Watney back.
I could go on an on about how Matt Damon nails it as Mark Watney. Or how the cast for the Hermes crew (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Aksel Hennie) are fantastic. Or how the Earth-bound people (Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Chiwtel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Mackenzie Davis, and Donald Glover) are very memorable. I could tell you that the film’s score by Harry Greson-Williams matches the film perfectly. The script by Drew Goddard captures most of the good parts of Andy Weir’s book and gives Weir’s somewhat stilted dialogue in the book a good upgrade. And I could tell you that Ridley Scott directs the film with a steady hand and makes one of his most entertaining films in years. And that would all be true.
Ridley Scott has a tendency to release director’s cuts of his films. I am not sure if it’s because he is pushed by the studio to help double-dip in home video sales or if he wants to correct things from the theatrical releases. With something like Blade Runner, his director’s cut (aka “The Final Cut”) of the film is obviously something he wanted to do to correct things. The difference between the theatrical release and the director’s cut are so large that I only watch the director’s cut. The Martian: Extended Edition feels less like that and more of the studio trying to double-dip in home video sales.
The additional ten minutes of footage that are added are mostly small additions scattered throughout the film. There are two longer sections that are interesting, but do not add to the film in anyway. I can understand why these scenes were removed from the theatrical release.
Of the two longer scenes added, one would have been an OK addition back and one took away from the pace of the film. The one scene that I liked and would have loved to seen in the theatrical release shows Watney completing the science experiments for the Mars mission. The scene has adds some humor to the film and shows how Watney’s persistent personality. The second longer scene is near the end of the film during Watney’s drive to the second MAV. It shows him opening a pop-up tent (which is in the book), getting cleaned up a bit and spending a moment to reflect on his time on Mars. This scene slows the pacing of the end part of the film and while it is nice, it does not add enough to the film.
I watched the Extended Edition on 4k UHD Blu-ray and it looked and sounded fantastic. The 4k UHD Blu-ray disc includes both versions of the film.
So, if I am going to watch The Martian again, which version would I chose? And which version would I recommend? The answer to both of those questions is the theatrical release of the film. It moves along at a better pace and none of the additions for the Extended Edition really make a difference to the story.