Returning to Mars

martian1I watched The Martian again last night…

The standard, theatrical version, you understand, not the Directors Cut recently released in the States (and out here in a few months). Yes, (sigh); another Directors Cut. Still, at only ten minutes addl running time, I doubt that this particular Directors Cut is anything too major, likely just a few trims removed to get the theatrical version down to a premium running time (perhaps calling it an ‘Extended Cut’ would have been a fairer title).

The best, ‘proper’ Directors Cuts have additional sub-plots or additional characters, added depth… what The Martian Directors Cut does have though is more substantial extras, particularly a commentary track sorely lacking from the copy I own. Well, maybe after several months when its cheap enough to justify buying for that commentary…

Studios can be like a Bond villain sometimes. Home release strategies encouraging/necessitating double-dipping- say what you like about Warners and Batman v Superman, at least their Ultimate Cut is on the first home video release rather than six months down the line (although with BvS you have to wonder if that particular strategy would be a dead duck from the start with only a minority bothering to double dip later on- then again, that strategy somehow worked with Avatar...).

So anyway, I watched The Martian again.

Hell of an achievement that film, if only on a technical level. Say what you like about the films aesthetic merits (and they are pretty fine anyway), but what Ridley Scott, at his age (ouch- Ageism!) managed to do with The Martian… I mean, considering its scale it was made on such a tough schedule for an impressively tight budget of just over $100 million. It looks fantastic, marshalling a big crew and balancing several plot-threads and a large ensemble cast with considerable style, skillfully shot with a great sense of pace that never really falters. Sure, its not perfect but crikey, what a fine movie. And pulled off by a producer/director who was 77 years old at the time. Several moments during the film I just had to shake my head in some awe at what Ridley accomplished here. Puts these young turks to shame who think they just need flashy effects and a handheld camera to make a movie. Ridley’s best days are likely behind him, but he can still pull off a great movie experience, particularly if he has a good script to work with. Almost had me wishing he was shooting Blade Runner 2 rather than Villeneuve. Almost…

So anyway, yeah, returned to The Martian yesterday, and to this blog today.  Been a bad month for obvious reasons. I guess life goes on, but it’s bloody grim sometimes though. 2016 is proving to be A Very Bad Year… aside from losing Ben, my health hasn’t been great of late and we had particularly bad news in the family recently. 2016 needs to be over. Soon.

(Ridley made a film several years back titled A Good Year. A minor film. He should consider a sequel with A Very Bad Year for a title… it’d be very apt the way 2016 has gone…)


2 thoughts on “Returning to Mars

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Welcome back – your columns have been missed, and it’s been hard checking in every few days and feeling that renewed sadness when you last post & picture would pop up.
    Sorry things haven’t been great this year – at least when you’re older, bad years pass quicker. This year is flying by.

    I have a feeling I’ll end up watching The Martian when it ends up ‘free’ on either Amazon or Netflix. It was certainly Scott’s best film in decades.

    Are you looking forward to Alien: Covenant? They’re pushing it as more of a return to Alien territory, but there’s already been leaked pictures of Prometheus nonsense from the set. Sigh.

  2. Cheers Matthew, yes, its been a horrible time, like a bad dream you can’t wake up from, ever since Ben became ill in May. Actually losing him was still such a shock and it hasn’t gotten any easier since. I’ve been telling people that getting through it, its not so much a good day/bad day as a good twenty minutes/ bad twenty minutes.

    Regards Alien:Covenant, yes, Prometheus is a sobering reminder but I can’t help feeling a wee bit excited. At least a certain hack writer that sabotaged Prometheus is no longer involved.

    I’m a bit more concerned seeing some images at possible similarities to Aliens, a film I’ve never really made my peace with. I hope Ridley is making a scary film, not an action film.

    Really Alien is one of those films that never needed any prequel or sequel, its mysteries were always part of the charm. So like with Blade Runner 2 I feel a sort of ‘ fear the worst, hope for the best’ kind of thing. Its really amazing after so many years, talking about Alien and Blade Runner spin-off films. Such a shame Hollywood hadnt moved on beyond these film franchises years ago.

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