Mars Needs Moms is an overlooked and criminally underrated animated film that deserves far better treatment than most folks (myself included) gave it while it was in theaters. The film revolves around nine-year-old Milo (motion-captured to perfection by Seth Green, while being voiced by Seth Dusky) who finds out just how much he needs and loves his mom the hard way when she’s taken away by Martians. They plan on sapping away her motherly essence to place inside robots that raise their Martian children. It’s up to Milo to rescue his mom with the help of some newfound friends on Mars, before it’s too late. While only loosely based on Berkeley Breathed’s illustrated book of the same name, those who can look past the odd animation style will find a fun, action-packed tale the whole family is sure to enjoy.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t too impressed with the ads for this film during its run in theaters, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance once it came home to Blu-ray, as it reminded me of fun film classics such as The Goonies. I’m in full agreement with my fellow reviewer Chris Pandolfi, who raved after seeing it in theaters back in March. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say back then (check out his full review right HERE):
“This movie is funny and immensely charming, although there are a couple of one-liners that kids are unlikely to understand, most notably Gribble’s joke about he being a part of Ronald Regan’s anticommunist spy network: “Why do you think they call it the red planet?” Still, the film is a technical and artistic achievement, director Simon Wells achieving a look that crosses childish whimsy with the cover of a yesteryear pulp magazine. There’s plenty of action, but it doesn’t assault the senses – and that’s saying something given the fact that it was shot in 3D. There are bangs and pops and whirs, and yet I never felt as if my ears were on the verge of bleeding. Mars Needs Moms is, above all, a warm and resonant tale of parents and children, who, with just a little patience and understanding, can conceivably get along. Just make sure you eat your vegetables.”
The transfer of the film to Blu-ray is simply amazing, as the video and sound really come alive in high-definition perfection. The video comes in clean and sharp as well, with details like dust floating in the air, to the texture of objects being clearly seen. The sound quality is equally awesome, with the DTS-HD 7.1 audio really kicking things into high gear with crystal-clear effects and dialogue.
The special features are just as fantastic, and they’re presented in high-def as well. There’s “Life on Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience”, which gives viewers audio commentary from writer/director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler while showing a picture in picture view of the actors motion capturing the film as it plays out. Then there’s seven deleted scenes that Simon Wells introduces, some being just animatics, while others have fully completed animation. The “Martian 101” feature shows how the cast and crew came up with the Martian language they created for the film, while lastly is the “Fun with Seth” feature that shows Seth Green fooling around on set and causing all kinds of mischief with the cast and crew.
It really is sad that Mars Needs Moms didn’t get the love it should’ve during its theatrical run, and I can only hope that it finds the audience is rightfully deserves with this stellar, featured-packed Blu-ray release. While some may be turned off by the use of motion-capture animation to bring Berkeley Breathed’s original illustrated book to life, the amazing work by Seth Green and the rest of the cast make it worth the effort. The visuals are near-perfection and the story both heartwarming and original, both elements that are hard to come by in most of today’s so-called ‘family friendly’ fare clogging up theaters and home video collections. Let’s hope others will put aside their initial mistrust and give this one another chance, as it really does capture what a fun, family film should be.
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Walt Disney Studios