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Mars Needs Moms: 2-Disc Combo Pack Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Review)

July 31, 2011 by  



A sci-fi, action adventure Disney animated film that can be enjoyed by the whole family!  “Mars Needs Moms” also will satisfy Blu-ray fans with its awesome PQ and immersive AQ.  Recommended!

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TITLE: Mars Needs Moms

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 98 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-Bit), English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital,  French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

RATED: PG (For Sci-Fi Action and Peril)

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2011

Directed by Simon Wells

Screenplay by Simon Wells, Wendy Wells

Based on the book by Berkeley Breathed

Produced by Steven J. Boyd, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis

Associate Producer: Ryan Chan

Line Producer: Peter M. Tobyansen

Music by John Powell

Cinematography by Robert PResley

Edited by Wayne Wahrman

Production Design by Doug Chiang

Art Direction by Brian Flora, Norman Newberry, Mike Stassi

Featuring the voices of:

Seth Green as Milo

Dan Fogler as Gribble

Joan Cusack as Mom

Elisabeth Harnois as Ki

Mindy Sterling as Supervisor

Kevin Cahoon as Wingnut

Tom Everett Scott as Dad

Take out the trash, eat your broccoli — who needs moms anyway? Nine-year-old Milo (Seth Green) finds out how much he needs his mom (Joan Cusack) when she’s nabbed by Martians who plan to steal her mom-ness for their own young. In a race against time and oxygen, his quest to save her knows no bounds. And with some unexpected help, Milo just might find his way back to her — in more ways than one.

Simon Wells is known for his storyboard art work for “Shrek 2”, “Antz”, “Madagascar”, as well as directing animated films such as “An Americna Tail: Fievel Goes West” and “The Time Machine”.

This time around, Wells joins filmmaker/producer Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future” films, “The Polar Express”, “The Monster House”, “Beowulf”) for the animated film “Mars Needs Moms”.  A film based on the book of the same title by Berkeley Breathed.

“Mars Needs Moms” begins with an alien race observing a mother and her son.

The film revolves around a nine-year-old boy named Milo (motion capture by Seth Green, voice-over by Seth Dusky) who is beginning summer vacation.  Hoping his father would return back from his business trip, unfortunately due to weather his father won’t be able to come back in time.

For Milo, he is tired of his mother (voiced by Joan Cusack, “Working Girl”, “Say Anything”, “Toy Story” films) telling him to clean his mess and take out the trash.  His mom tells him that he can watch a movie on pay-per-view if he eats all his broccoli, unfortunately Milo tries to feed it to the cat and the cat gets sick.

Upset that Milo didn’t eat his food, she tells him to go to bed.  When she goes to check on him, he’s jumping on his bed and it leads to an argument between mother and son and Milo telling his mother that he wishes that he never had a mom.

Shocked by what he said, Milo’s mother sheds a tear and for Milo, he knows he hurt her feelings.  Unable to sleep, Milo goes to apologize to his mother but to find out that she has been abducted by aliens.  He goes to her aid and tries to save her but she is brought inside the spacecraft.  As Milo bangs on the UFO, Milo’s hoodie gets caught in its hydraulic legs and Milo is brought into the spacecraft when the legs are brought back in.

The aliens arrive back to their planet and realize that they have a stowaway.  They try to shoot at Milo but with advice from a voice (that speaks English), Milo jumps into a chute and lands into a landfill where he encounters aliens.

He tries to communicate with them to no avail.  But he is instantly whisked away to an area by another human named Gribble (voiced by Dan Fogler, “Take Me Home Tonight”, “Kung Fu Panda”, “Horton Hears a Who?”).

Gribbe explains that Milo is in Mars and everyone above the planet are female while those in the trash sites are all male.

Gribble explains to Milo that his mother was taken because of her mothering skills.  The aliens try to take her memories and install them to robots who are responsible for taking care of the babies (which are born from the ground).  As for what happens to the mother, he doesn’t want to tell Milo the truth that she would be killed in the process.

As he explains to Milo that if he wants to save her, he has less than six hours to do so.  And as Milo leaves to rescue his mom, Gribble expects that Milo will not have any success and that he will rescue him and have a real human friend on Mars.

So, Milo disguises himself as an alien under Gribbles instructions (and also gives him a translator so he can understand what the aliens are saying).  As he walks around with the other alien military units, he sees a colorful picture of flowers.  Gribble explains to him that someone has been spraying graffiti in various areas and the rule of the planet, known as the “Supervisor” is after whoever is responsible for it.  Gribble also explains to Milo that the Supervisor is not to be messed with.

As Milo tries to go up and find the area where his mom is taken, the aliens catch on to his plan and he is pursued.  Through a bug planted on Milo, they are able to find out that he is communicating with Gribble and capture him.  Meanwhile, as Milo runs from the military, he is rescued by the alien named Ki (voiced by Elisabeth Harnois), who is responsible for spray painting flowers everywhere.

She is an alien who works for the supervisor.  And one day Ki discovered a video from the late ’60s of hippies and flower power that she is amused by it and has made it her goal to paint flowers everywhere.

As Ki tries to protect Milo from trouble but also knowing she has to get back to work, the two split ways and Milo goes back to search for Gribble at his living area.  Unfortunately it has been destroyed and as for Gribble, all that is left is his possession and what Milo finds is a t-shirt with a picture of Gribble (with his name George Ribble and his mother).

Milo figures that Gribble was like him and lost his mother and now Milo will do what he can to help his mother and Gribble escape.

But as Milo is able to save Gribble with quick thinking, both of them are now being pursued by the aliens.  Gribble then tells Milo the truth of the day his mother was captured and killed.  Determined to not let Milo’s mother die, Gribble agrees to help him…but they also get help from Ki (who is now wanted for helping Milo and Gribble escape).

As Ki spends time with both Gribble and Milo, Ki starts to fall for Gribble (especially how she loves how he turns red when he talks to her) but also to discover a rock formation of pictures of her alien race taking care of children.  For Ki, this is a shock because they were raised by believing that robots raise the children on Mars but if the picture is true, that means the Supervisor has been lying to all of her fellow species all this time.

So, now the three join forces in trying to rescue Milo’s mother.  But can they do it in time?

VIDEO:

“Mars Needs Moms” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  The film looks absolutely great in HD.  With the animation process that Robert Zemeckis used for “Polar Express”, he tries to bring that realism to “Mars Needs Moms”. There is great detail on the facial expressions, especially how the talent were motion-captured.  There is a sense of realism with the characters and I absolute love the CG detail for not only the characters but their surroundings.  And the detail really does show on Blu-ray.

Because the film takes place on Mars, there is a good number of scenes that showcase fire, many reds, oranges and browns and for the most part, these vibrant colors really pop.  There is a lot of detail when it comes to the metallic parts, the gears, the weapons, the spacecraft,  computer displays, etc.

But I know that for many people, the main contention of the CG animation is the overall look of the characters.  For one, “Mars Needs Moms” follows up the style that Zemeckis did with “The Polar Express” and that is CG animation with realism.  Disney is know for its Pixar films and there is a difference when it comes to their style of films.

Personally, I enjoyed the look of Zemeckis’ “The Polar Express” and even “The Monster House”, especially how the technology was used on “Beowulf”.  But for a children’s film, the look might be too creepy.

I showed it to my son and to me, he wasn’t bothered by it.  He actually enjoyed the film , so I know critics have tried to come up with reasons of why the film didn’t perform well in the box office and some point towards the animation but I personally don’t think the animation was the problem.

If anything, the CG looks great on Blu-ray and those who didn’t watch the film in theaters, will definitely enjoy it in HD!

As for teh DVD, the DVD is presented in widescreen (2:40:1 aspect ratio) – enhanced for 16×9 televisions.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Mars Needs Moms” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit) and English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The lossless soundtrack for “Mars Needs Moms” is fantastic!  From the blasts of the spacecraft, the sounds of Milo falling in the trash heap, the laser blasts to the sounds of the oxygen mask shattering, there is a good amount of surround sound usage in this film but also how there is slight echoes to the dialogue of characters depending on the rooms that they are at.

So, while there is crystal clear dialogue and music coming from the front and center channels, the surround and rear surround channels are used very well throughout the film.  I was absolutely pleased by the lossless soundtrack.

As for the DVD version, the DVD is presented in English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mars Needs Moms: 2-Disc Combo Pack Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Fun with Seth – (2:28) How Seth Green made things much more fun for the cast and crew behind-the-scenes.
  • Martian 101 – (2:51) Developing the alien language for “Mars Needs Moms”.
  • Deleted Scenes with Simon Wells introductions – (28:51) Featuring the extended opening and deleted scenes.  Featuring the Full Motion-Capture experience.  Behind the scenes footage of the actors‘ performances are captured. 7 deleted scenes of which four are exclusive to the Blu-ray 2D release. Some cool scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Now you can see them with introductions by director Simon Wells.

EASTER EGG:

Highlight “Fun with Seth” in Special Features and press up and you will see a panel show flowers.  Click and you will access the “Flower Power” easter egg.

  • “Flower Power” Easter Egg – (:51) the name of the show that Ki watched and learned English from.

EXTRAS:

“Mars Needs Moms: 2-Disc Combo Pack Edition” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film and special features.  Also, included is a slipcover case.

A fantastic family film with a good amount of action and adventure. “Mars Needs Moms: 2-Disc Combo Pack Edition” is absolutely wonderful on Blu-ray!

“Mars Needs Moms” despite its title that may make children think this is a film for daughters, the film is definitely for children who love action and adventure, and also add sci-fi to the mix!  The film was much more than I expected and watching it together with 8-year-old, we both enjoyed the film from beginning to end.

Of course, I am aware of how the film did terribly in the box office.  As many critics have pointed the finger towards Zemeckis’ and his use of the CG technology of realism not being for the children.  The fact is that many children’s films tend to have featured on animals and or objects, Zemeckis’ films use actual beings and tries to interject realism to those characters.

We have seen the efficacy of films such as “The Polar Express” and “Monster House” and while not following the typical Disney formula of human characters that lack realism or not using animals or objects as its main characters, “Mars Needs Moms” in my opinion is not the animation that was at fault. Granted, some people may find the realism creepy, I didn’t, my son didn’t and I just don’t think that the animation was at fault.

I personally feel that the title had something to do with it.  Call it something else without “Moms” in the title or focus on the adventures that are taking place in Mars and it gives young kids a different idea of what the film is about.  Heck, call it “Space Adventures in Mars” and that would probably get children all excited.

“Mars Needs Moms” will definitely be an eye-opener for parents as we see the mom and child arguments (more like, children not wanting to listen and are being a bit more rebellious at the age of 8-years and older) and just that opening sequence alone shows you the mindset of children and children probably will not want a title with “moms”, they may love their moms but as these kids grow older, the less they will publicly acknowledge it and probably will not want to be seen in a public theater watching a film about rescuing mom.

The title also gives a feeling that the film is maybe for young little girls when in fact the film can be enjoyed by any child and families but not limited to a certain demographic.  So, it makes me wonder if the title was even tested with children to see what their reactions are.  Sure, we know that children love their moms but children at that age are also trying to be defiant and rebellious towards their moms as well.

Regardless of what transpired in the box office, I do feel that this film can have new life on video.  The story is fun, the Blu-ray of “Mars Needs Moms” is absolutely gorgeous. There is a lot of detail, vibrant colors and for Disney Blu-ray fans, they know what to expect and that is quality when it comes to picture quality.  And for audio, once again…fantastic!  7.0 DTS-HD MA lossless soundtrack and you get an immersive soundscape.  Wonderful audio quality and once again, fans with a home theater system will definitely enjoy this Blu-ray release!

I do feel that Disney went a little lax on the special features.  Aside from deleted scenes, the other two features are only two minutes long.  An audio commentary would have been nice or even a gag reel.

With the Blu-ray release, you have two choices.  One is a 2-Disc Combo Pack with the Blu-ray and DVD and then there is the 4-disc combo pack which those with a 3D-enabled television and Blu-ray player can enjoy the film in 3D and also get the regular Blu-ray, DVD and also digital copy of the film.  It’s important to note that the 4-disc version also has a special exclusive feature in 3D.

Overall, “Mars Needs Moms” was a lot better than I expected.  In fact, as a parent of a child who is also starting to back-talk with his mother, not eat his broccoli and also complaining about chores, I watched my son’s reaction to the film, especially during its most emotional moment.  But realizing that while the film has plenty of action and adventure to keep children interested in the film, there is also a message for the children to also respect their mother.

It’s a situation I’m sure many mothers and their young children go through but I was glad to see how that message of mother/child bond was integrated into the film.

While “Mars Needs Mom” may not have the typical Disney look for its CG animation, I still feel it was an enjoyable sci-fi, adventure family film.  I’m not saying its perfect, nor is it great but it is enjoyable, fun and a family film that parents and children can enjoy together.

Recommended!

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