Apr 172017

Mars is a flawed yet still entertaining mini-series where I found a little more interest in the scripted, with some interesting characters, dramatic part versus the documentary, though I wish that portion was a movie of its own. Still, this is worth a rental.




Genre(s): Science Fiction, Drama
Fox | NR – 283 min. – $29.99 | April 11, 2017

Date Published: 04/17/2017 | Author: The Movieman


Directed by:
Everado Gout
Writer(s): Stephen Patranek (book “How We’ll Live on Mars”); Ben Young Mason & Andre Bormanis & Mickey Fisher & Karen Janszen & Jonathan Silberberg (developed by), Ben Young Mason & Justin Wilkes (created by)
Cast: Ben Cotton, Jihae, Clementine Poidatz, Sammi Rotibi, Alberto Ammann, Anamaria Marinca, Olivier Martinez
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: NA
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A


THE SEASON — 3.0/5

Plot Synopsis: Set in the year 2033, the series blends scripted drama and documentary sequences centering on twin female astronauts (JIHAE), one in space the other on the ground serving as a guide, who courageously embark on an epic adventure: humanity’s awe-inspiring quest to colonize Mars. This crew includes Ben Sawyer (BEN COTTON), Hana Seung (JIHAE), Amelia Durand (CLEMENTINE POIDATZ), Robert Foucault (SAMMI ROTIBI), Javier Delgado (ALBERTO AMMANN) and Marta Kamen (ANAMARIA MARINCA). Putting together this mission is Ed Grann (OLIVIER MARTINEZ), CEO of the Mars Mission Corporation who does his all to keep the endeavor afloat in spite of cold feet from some of the financiers.

The world’s most brilliant minds in space exploration, including visionary thinkers Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, NASA astronauts and others, share what the not-so-distant future may hold for all of us, and why life on the iconic red planet is no longer just science fiction.

Quick Hit Review: I had seen various advertisements for this Nat Geo mini-series but never found the time, or interest, to watch it either live or on demand. So I took this opportunity to check this out as I’ve had a fascination with space travel. The concept at least was interesting intermixing present day documentary style filmmaking with the scripted future set between 2033 and 2037. The idea was fine, the execution wasn’t the best, however. I think this could have worked as separate entities with one a documentary mini-series and the other, the dramatic mini-series but I found going back and forth, any momentum was lost.

Now, taking each as a project, I did manage to enjoy the scripted part a bit more than the documentary (for one, there were times it felt like an advertisement for Space X) but second, I actually kind of liked these characters, especially Jihae as the eventual crew leader and while some of the drama was a bit overwrought, it at least never went into soap opera territory with only minor romantic elements and instead focuses more on the logistics of not only setting up camp on Mars but maintaining it and, during a multi-month long sand storm, keeping one’s mental state in check.

Executive produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, through his Imagine Entertainment production company, Mars is a perfectly satisfactory mini-series that certainly could have been better yet there were at least entertaining moments and even though the documentary elements were weak, it was interesting to see how we are attempting for the goal, as well as the importance, of getting to the red planet.

Since I did enjoy this, I am looking forward to the second season, hopefully some of the issues from this installment can be corrected or fine tuned.



This 3-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case. All features are contained on the third disc.

Making Mars (47:17; HD) is an episode-length behind-the-scenes featurette that basically re-tells the objective of the importance of going to Mars and I think includes many of the same sound-bites from the series.

Before Mars: A Prequel (33:00; HD) is a touching short that expands on the twin girls background and how one became interested in space travel.

Before Mars: Behind the Scenes (2:28; HD) takes viewers on how the prequel was made.

Getting to Mars (13:51; HD)

  • How Will We Land on Mars?
  • How Are We Going to Get Off This Rock?
  • Planning Our Route to Mars
  • Enduring the Journey to Mars
  • Why Should We Go to Mars?
  • Zubrin’s Guide to Colonizing Mars

Living on Mars (10:26; HD)

  • Take a Deep Breath: Creating Air on Mars
  • So, What’s for Dinner… On Mars?
  • How Will We Get Water on Mars?
  • Finding Shelter
  • Generating Power on Mars
  • Contaminating Mars

More Mars (10:29; HD)

  • Mars 101
  • Space Law
  • Visions of the Future
  • A Brief History of Marsgazing

Behind the Scenes (14:38; HD)

  • Filming the Show
  • Building the Sets
  • Selecting an International Cast

These sets are mini-featurettes covering a variety of subjects but served more as adverts for the series yet interesting nevertheless even if they are rather short.

Cast & Crew Interviews (25:06; HD)

  • Ron Howard – Executive Producer
  • Everado Gout – Director
  • Paul Solet – Writer
  • Ben Cotton – Actor (Ben Sawyer)
  • Jihae – Actor (Hana and Joon)
  • Clementine Poidatz – Actor (Amelie Durand)
  • Alberto Ammann – Actor (Javier Delgado)
  • Sammi Rotibi – Actor (Robert Foucault)
  • Anamarie Marinca – Actor (Marta Kamen)
  • Olivier Martinez – Actor (Ed Grann)
  • John Light – Actor (Paul Richardson)
  • Cosima Shaw – Actor (Leslie Richardson)


VIDEO – 4.0/5

Mars lands on Blu-ray through Fox presented in its originally televised 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. Having not watched it on television, I can’t directing compare but it would seem the picture is fairly close with some vibrant colors but, while on the surface of Mars, far more natural tones like browns. Detail is sharp throughout and the picture is clean, free of any artifacting, aliasing or banding.

AUDIO – 4.25/5

Each episode comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which I found perfectly satisfactory. Dialogue levels sounded clean and crisp and when the action did manage to pick up, there was at least a little depth presented. The only downside is the audio become far more centralized during the documentary/interview segments.


OVERALL – 3.25/5

Overall, Mars is a flawed yet still entertaining mini-series where I found a little more interest in the scripted, with some interesting characters, dramatic part versus the documentary, though I wish that portion was a movie of its own. Still, this is worth a rental. The Blu-ray released by Fox offers good video/audio transfers and a nice selection of bonus material.





Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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