- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Video Codec: MVC (3D), AVC/MPEG-4 (2D)
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Digital Descriptive Video Service Dolby 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
- Rating: PG
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Discs: 4 (1 x Blu-ray 3D + 1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD + 1 x Digital Copy)
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 9, 2011
- List Price: $49.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
I have never been a fan of the motion-capture animation process, at least not as a means to creating a wholly animated film substituting actors’ captured performances with the aftermath of computer whiz kids. Something about the soulless eyes and cold, emotionless faces of near-humans just turns me off. When you combine those things with a story like Mars Needs Moms that is a vapid attempt at family values and family entertainment is just makes matters worse.
A Simon Wells directed film in name, with Robert Zemeckis written all over it (Zemeckis actually produced it), Mars Needs Moms “stars” Seth Green as our hero Milo, a misbehaved 9-year-old whose mom, a very creepy looking Joan Cusak, must do her best to wrangle him into line, getting him to take out the trash, eat his veggies, and go to bed. Unfortunately for Milo, who is convinced life would be so much better for him “if he didn’t have a mom at all,” it’s these wonderful mothering qualities that attract the Martians who have been observing the planet to Milo’s mom. They have a new set of hatchlings coming and no mothers to raise them, so they need Milo’s mother so they can extract her skills and upload them to their nannybots with fatal results. When Milo walks in on the Martians abducting his mom, he chases after them and ends up hitching a ride on their spaceship back to Mars. There he meets a particularly annoying human named Gribble (Dan Fogler) who’s been living there secretly for years and a neo-hippie Martian girl named Ki (Elisabeth Harnois) whose whole English vocabulary has been formed from early-70s Earth television and whose idea of rebellion is plastering sparkly, psychedelic art across the pristine techie walls of the Martian cities.
Somewhere in all of this are a few pretty typical action sequences and animation that could have been lifted from any number of recent animated features. Gribble, for instance, has a “pet” robot that looks and acts suspiciously like Pixar’s Wall•E and the two of them also happen to live down in a big garbage dump – sound familiar? Rather ironically, there’s a message here about technology not being able to replace real human interaction and love. Somehow the filmmakers missed their own message when they replaced the actors’ performances with the ghost-like CG-generated humans in this motion-capture production.
2D HD: [Rating:5/5]
3D Effect: [Rating:2/5]
Mars Needs Moms in 3D is a motion-capture production that was converted to 3D and it’s not a very good 3D conversion either. On Blu-ray, there are issues with the aspect ratio causing black bars to appear at the sides of the 2.40:1 framing with changing degrees of thickness from scene to scene. Whatever the case may be, the entire film just appears window-boxed throughout, as opposed to the normal 2D Blu-ray presentation, which has none of these issues. As for the depth of field, it is subtle, at best. No doubt there is more dimensionality imparted, but that “looking through an open window” effect isn’t quite as drastic as with some other more reference 3D releases, such as Avatar or, an IMAX title like Grand Canyon Adventure. Pop-out is nonexistent as well.
The 2D disc is the polar opposite in every respect, offering a pristine presentation up to the level of quality you’d expect from Disney in every way. It’s detailed, vivid, and almost real enough to touch.
There is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack provided as the main mix on both the 3D and 2D Blu-rays. It isn’t quite as aggressive as some of the most hyperactive animated sound mixes I’ve heard, but it is really good nonetheless. The extra back channels add an extra amount of air to the soundstage and there’s plenty enough activity on those surround channels to keep things interesting. High frequencies are subtle and natural while low frequencies are nicely extended yet tight, not loose and boomy.
This 4-disc set is pretty loaded with hi-def extras, including the rather cool picture-in-picture feature Life on Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience that lets viewers watch the film while also watching the actors go through the motion-capture process. It also allows you to switch to the motion-capture screen as the primary, full-screen option. Some other features include several deleted scenes and some lighthearted on-the-set fun.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Mom-Napping (3D) – Alternate scene.
- Life on Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience with optional introduction and audio commentary
- Fun with Seth (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:28) – The actor has some fun during the motion-capture process.
- Martian 101 (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:51) – The actors and filmmakers discuss creating the odd Martian language for the film together.
- Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Director Simon Wells:
- Extended Opening
- Begonia Attack
- Adlibs from Gribble’s Lair
- Swinging Bridge
- Angry George Ribble
- Gribble Growing Up
- Mars Monorail
- Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon & Pumbaa
- Digital Copy
The Definitive Word
If your tastes aren’t too discerning and you don’t mind weird looking human replicants in your wildly derivative and shallow computer generated animated features, then Mars Needs Moms is the right film for you and your family. The 3D is one of the worst I’ve seen for a CG film on Blu-ray as well, although the 2D high definition is about as good as it gets, proving once again that even a mediocre film can offer a splendid home theatre experience on Blu-ray, but, what’s the point?
Additional Screen Captures