Releasing in DVD format, the 3D animated sci-fi adventure "Mars Needs Moms" features a performance-capture version of the book from cartoonist Berkeley Breathed. This PG-rated family movie runs 88 minutes and stars Seth Green, Seth Dusky, Joan Cusack, Dan Folger, Mindy Sterling, and Elisabeth Harnois. Simon Wells, the great grandson of H.G. Wells, helms this Disney offering.
Tired of his domestic chores, the nine-year old Milo resents his mom out loud due to an emotional outburst. Before he can even apologize, he discovers that his mom is being abducted. He struggles to rescue her until he finds himself unexpectedly traveling to Mars in an alien spaceship. He learns that the Martians need to harvest his mom's maternal instincts to nurture their young. He meets the gadget-freak human named Gribble and the rebel Martian girl Ki and the three of them try to rescue his mom before she is gone for good.
The "Mars Needs Moms" DVD showcases lively and richly detailed computer-generated imagery (CGI). For the home sequences, the shots clearly try to mimic a live-action look where elements have that almost photorealistic feel. For the Martian sequences, it features a variety of stylish and high-tech complexes and warm, reddish landscapes. There is a distinct mix of scenes with dark and muted shades and also scenes with beautiful displays of psychedelic colors.
The motion-capture technique used in the film is featured on the film's end credits. It shows the actors wearing motion-capture suits so the computer can record their movements in data format, which is later applied to the characters' 3D models. The movie's character animation jumps in between performances with life-like grace and performances that look creepy and synthetic. And so, there are parts that look entertaining and touching, but there are also parts that look fake and uninspired.
This DVD offer's audio mix that's not as aggressive as many hyperactive animated movie mixes, but it delivers a decently immersive aural experience for the audience. The various sound elements provide good surround activity and the speaking lines are generally clear and well-grounded. The disc's audio options provide mixes in English, French, and Spanish.
The "Mars Needs Moms" DVD includes two bonus materials. "Martian 101" is a featurette showcasing how the production came up with their own version of the Martian language. "Fun With Seth" is a featurette showcasing the on-set antics of actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler. The disc also features subtitle options in English, Spanish, and French.
This animated movie can work for those who are not too discerning on the storytelling aspect of such a mediocre offering. Despite the setbacks, it still brings some valuable life lessons for the kids and it also offers some moments of audio-visual fun. At times, the story may feel emotionally unattached, but there are also parts of the story that features touching, thrilling, and energetic scenes for the family audience to enjoy.
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