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Mars Needs Moms (3D/2D) (2011) Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 August 2011
ImageNormally I love Disney products, but “Mars Needs Moms,” eek.  The film goes wrong in some many ways it is hard to keep track.  The film is based on a short story, a bedtime story, by author Berkeley Breathed.  Those with children likely have a pile of his books already on the bedside table.  If not, then you really should.

The film takes the imaginative illustrations and story of Breathed and stretches to film 88 minutes of screen time.  As with nearly every short story adaptation, the end film suffers greatly from the unnecessary runtime.  Short stories should be short films, not feature length.

In “Mars Needs Moms” Milo, a typical kid who is reluctant to obey his mother (you know, not taking out the trash, not eating broccoli, etc.) finds that Martians have targeted his mother for their planet.  Abducted in the middle of the night, Milo’s mother (Joan Cusack) is placed aboard a spacecraft and somehow Milo manages to catch up and leap onto the ship.

Once back on Mars, Milo is rescued by a fellow earthling, Gribble (Dan Fogler), who is a man with a child’s sense of education.  He has made a home for himself in the subterranean levels of the Mars city.  Essentially, it is the area of the city in which the trash is sent and the males of the Martian species are banished.  On the females live in the city.

With new Martian hatchlings popping out of the ground, it is time for the Martian Supervisor (Mindy Sterling) to take the maternal instincts of an Earth mom and transplant it to a fleet of nanny robots to raise the Martian children.

The film gets lost in it many subplots.  The story is about a kid who goes to Mars to save his mom, grow a bit in character and then get back home.  In the film we have added plots such as a rebellious Martian names Ki (Elisabeth Harnois) with longs to liberate her race from the tyranny of the Supervisor.  The film loses its focus in the quest for achieving 88 minutes of screen time.  And in the end, Milo doesn’t show much of a growth.  His appreciation of his mother comes across as only skin deep, something that will be forgotten the next day.  Milo is fairly one note throughout the entirety of the film.  He constantly complains and whines, usually repeating the same innate lines of dialogue, needing everything said by another character to be spelled out in exact words.  How many different ways do you need to here that your mother is terminated before you realize it means that she will be killed? The darker nature of the film in comparison with the short story is going to keep some of the younger audiences up at night.  Be forewarned, if your three to eight year old watches this film, you may be in for some long nights.  Even though it is animation, I can only imagine the nightmares that will be incurred by younglings when they see a mom vaporized in the Martian machine.

The animation of the film is accomplished used motion capture technology through Image Movers Digital.  This animation technique leaves the end product with blocky elements and weak facial expressions.  In comparison with the short story’s illustrations, the film ends up being a mockery, wasting vast potential.

As with all Disney releases thus far, “Mar Needs Moms” offers a great Blu-ray viewing experience in both 3D and 2D.  The 3D nature of the video transfer is nearly impeccable.  There are no gimmick 3D effects here.  The 3D relies upon convincing depth factors.  Each sequence in the film has impeccable depth.  The colors are incredible.  When the graffiti flowers are in the sequence the colors just pops from the screen.  While the non-graffiti sequences are still colorful, the flowers really show the missing colors of the film.  The animation is covered with a blue and red tint that gives us the sense of the Mars surface.  Details and textures of every characters, rock and object are perfectly rendered.  There appear to be no compression of aliasing artifacts of any sort.  The only negative with this transfer, and it is so minimal is really not worthy mentioning, is the brief appearance of banding in the 2D version and the brief appearance of ghosting in the 3D version.  Typically 3D Blu-rays are riddled with ghosting, but Disney’s transfer is nearly perfect.  The couple instances of ghosting that I spotted with go unnoticed by most viewers.  This is a 3D presentation that shows the superior nature of the 3D over 2D.  Still, no matter which version you watch, both are outstanding, only hindered by the original animation design.

“Mars Needs Moms” is the next in an increasing Disney line-up of native 7.1 surround sound films.  This film may exhibit the best 7.1 surround usage to date.  The extra two surround back channels are finally used for more than just the music score.  Effects are nicely panned through them, providing a truly immersive aural experience.  The lossless nature of the DTS-HD MA track is impeccable.  The dynamics are explosive.  Music helps move sequences that would otherwise be static.  The hard sound effects are spot on.  Directionality and panning are perfect.  Dialogue is panned throughout the seven channels as well.  This may distract some listeners given that it is an up and coming technique.  However, it provides much more realism in the soundfield.  The front and rear soundfields are spacious and still connected, providing the ultimate listening experience.  The LFE channel is not as powerful as in “Tron: Legacy,” but it used effectively throughout the film.  This is truly one of the best audio tracks of the year.

“Mars Needs Moms” comes in a variety of packages.  This write-up details the 4-disc 3D combo pack.  This pack contains Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray 2D, DVD and Digital Copy discs.  In a rarity, the Blu-ray 3D disc contains all the bonus materials plus more that can be found on the 2D and DVD discs.  Normally, all the special features are located only on the 2D Blu-ray disc.  This is likely due to the short duration of the film.

Ported from the 2D Blu-ray disc, the 3D disc contains a Picture-In-Picture track with a video of the motion capture sessions.  The PiP track can be viewed with or without an audio commentary by director Simon Wells.  Also on the Blu-ray 3D disc is an extended opening, several deleted scenes, an Easter egg, “Fun with Seth” and “Martian 101.”

Exclusive the Blu-ray 3D disc is a short 3D deleted scene.  The special features of these disc is not exhaustive, but will leave fans of the film satisfied.

“Mars Needs Moms” is a tedious film that doesn’t flow very well.  However, the audio and video transfers are exquisite and shouldn’t be missed.  Definitely get this title on is technical merit, but only a rent for the film itself.  Get the short story book instead.

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