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Title: Mars Needs Moms
Starring: Joan Cusack, Seth Green, Dan Fogler
Directed by: Simon Wells
Written by: Simon Wells, Wendy Wells
Studio: Disney
Rated: PG
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: 8/9/2011

Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:86

Milo is your typical nine-year old boy. He hates doing his chores, he hates eating his broccoli and he absolutely hates it when aliens show up and abduct his mother... After a heated argument with his mother, that ends with Milo telling her that he wished he didn’t even have a mother, Milo begins to feel the heavy weight of his guilt weighing him down. He gets out of bed and goes to find his mother to apologize for his hurtful comments only to find that she is being abducted by aliens. Terrified out of his mind, Milo unflinchingly pursues his mother’s captors only to end up getting trapped onboard the spaceship that the aliens arrive in.

After a quick jaunt across part of our solar system, the ship arrives at the fourth planet Mars. Still groggy from the trip, Milo wakes long enough to see the Martians carting his mother away in some sort of glass enclosed vessel however; it isn’t long before he is discovered by the planet’s indigenous population and incarcerated. Now lost and alone, Milo is contacted and subsequently released by an unknown voice who guides him to a narrow getaway. Shortly after, Milo meets his savior Gribble, another human actually stuck on the red planet. Gribble explains what is about to happen to Milo’s mother setting off a series of events that will lead them on an adventure to rescue Milo’s mother, free the Martians from a prison that they don’t even realize that they are in and return home in time for breakfast.

Mars Needs Moms fails for me on a lot of levels. Granted that I didn’t think it was as bad as I had heard, but when I compare what was presented to its $150 million production budget; it’s no wonder this one is considered one of the biggest flops in Hollywood’s history. First off, motion capture animation very rarely works in a completely animated film involving humans and I just wonder how long it is before studios understand that. The only one I have seen that I even remotely liked was Monster House, but even that one still kind of gives me a creepy feeling. The biggest reason, in my opinion, is the lifeless eye syndrome. Just like I have seen with movies such as A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express and Monster House, Mars Needs Moms suffers from a soulless looking presentation with dead eyes. Instead of investing so heavily in the technology in this manner, Robert Zemeckis and crew could take some lessons from James Cameron’s camp and use it similarly as he did in Avatar.

Second, the story/plot is fairly morbid. What child wants to see someone’s mother abducted by aliens? The premise is fairly dark and being that the aliens intend on doing Milo’s mother harm; I can’t even recommend this one for family night with small children. Lastly, there aren’t any A-list voices here. Sure there is one recognizable actor with Joan Cusack, but Dan Fogler and Tom Everett Scott are the only other recognizable actors offering their voice talent. I was also surprised to see Seth Green credited at the top of the list only to find out that his involvement was merely as body of Milo via the motion capture. Really? Actors are now billed for providing their bodies for the motion capture?

Rated PG for sci-fi action and peril.

Video: :5stars:
I would easily say that the 1080P AVC-1 transfer for Mars Needs Moms is a reference level presentation through and through. Black levels are inky and infinite providing an incredible amount of depth. Shadow delineation is perfect and has an equal depth effect on the sepia tones in the bowels of the Mars underground. Primary colors pop with vividness and present a wonderful contrast to the occasional drab tones in the before mentioned underground. Secondary hues are a bit muted, but only in comparison to the brighter primaries. The overall pallet of color is nothing less than gorgeous from the greens and blues of planet Earth to the reds and browns of Mars and the wild primary colors of the underground dwellers. Resolution is perfect and textures are equally defined as layer upon layer of architecture, clothing, landscapes and facial features come to life in this bold presentation. This is one thing we have all come to expect from Disney in this day and age and it really is quite a wonderful site to behold.

Audio: :4.5stars:
I found the audio to be a bit lacking when compared to the video presentation. The LFE was fairly scarce and limited to spaceship launches and a couple of rumbles. I would like to point out that the directional effect of the surrounds is flawless and created some great listening. There is a scene early on when Milo and his mother are walking into the house and as his mother enters, you can follow her voice from the left-center to the left front to the left surround to the left rear surround and finally over to the right rear surround. I thought the effect was very cool and played it a couple of times just to experience it again. The overall surround channel presentation was no slouch either and provided plenty of sound to give those channels a good workout. Dialogue reproduction was definitely on par with the rest of the presentation as well and didn’t suffer from any loss during the action scenes. Definitely a better than most presentation, but I would have preferred a bit more LFE.

Extras: :4stars:

  • Life on Mars: Full motion capture
  • 3D and 2D Bluray versions of the film
  • Fun with Seth
  • Martian 101
  • Deleted scenes with director introduction
  • DVD – Mars needs moms
  • Digital Copy of Mars needs moms
Overall: :4stars:
In my opinion, Mars Needs Moms shines a fairly bright light on the deficiencies with the whole motion capture technology itself. The problem that I see with it is that when you so accurately create a human being in the digital world, the spirit of that person doesn’t make the trip and it can be seen in the lack of life in the eyes. There’s an old saying that the eyes are the windows to the soul, obviously when there isn’t one things get a bit creepy. Alright, that’s all I have to say about that. In the end I can’t recommend a buy on this one unless you want some outstanding demo video material, other than that give it a rent.

Recommendation: Rent It!

Official Blu-Ray Reviews Scoring

108 Posts
Second, the story/plot is fairly morbid. What child wants to see someone’s mother abducted by aliens? The premise is fairly dark and being that the aliens intend on doing Milo’s mother harm; I can’t even recommend this one for family night with small children.
I agree 100%. We were't aware of this when we began watching it with our 3 and 4 year old children but once that plot point was established and they were flipping out we felt compelled to have them see it through to the "happy ending". In the end they agreed that everything did turn out okay but after spending the entire movie glued to Mommy, one on each side, there's no way they'll ever willingly watch it again.

Honestly though, we should not have been surprised. Disney has a long history of evil villains and terrible tragedy's and this movie wasn't any different than Bambi losing his mother to hunters or Simba losing his father to a herd of wildebeest. Incidentally, my children haven't seen either of those movies yet, nor will they anytime soon.
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