3D BLU-RAY REVIEW: Mars Needs Moms
Disney's latest 3-D means inter-planetary family fun...
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Last week fans of sci-fi family animated fun and the Berkeley Breathed book of the same name picked up the latest Walt Disney 3-D film to hit home video: Mars Needs Moms. Following nine-year-old Milo (Seth Green), who loses his mother to Martians and must seek to rescue her in a race against time and oxygen, Mars Needs Moms tells an action-packed story that'll have many a fans cheering and ready for more. Or, at least, some fans. You see, this is another case of the film not living up to the expectations of the book reader's vision and, while the film in it's own right is brilliant in many respects, it simply isn't as unique as it strives to be.
The story itself is fun and tells the morality tale we all learn as youth and know as adults: our mothers, no matter how much we might hate what they do or how they treat us when we're kids, truly love us...and we need them. In this tale, it takes Milo's mother being kidnapped by aliens in order for him to understand just how important she is to him.
Intermingled in the book's original main story - stated above - are a number of other more confusing plots including the subjugation of the Martian males to near slavery. While it's the liberation of these aliens and the overcoming of truly astronomical odds on Milo's part that makes the story at times exciting, it's also this heavy storyline which makes it hard for the young ones - who this film is generally aimed at - to enjoy.
For those who enjoy the latest in 3-D animation at home, this film is a winner. That said, the 2-D version of the film is, in this reviewer's opinion, slightly better. Nearly flawless with no visible banding or ghosting, the 2-D, with its deep blacks, sharp contrasts, and beautiful colors, makes for a nearly perfect viewing experience. Likewise, the 3-D, most times, looks just as good as at home as it did in the theater, with plenty of depth throughout. Overall, Mars Needs Moms is one of the most impressive visual feats of the year.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround sound captures the film's dialogue, laser blasts, explosions, and liberating Martian cries of freedom to perfection. A gorgeous blend of effects in all speakers helps create an experience that's exciting. Be it the dialogue-rich front speakers or the sound effect riddled side and rear speakers, the entire 7.1 surround track lays down a powerful and enjoyable audio experience.
As for special features, the 4-disc set includes the film in blu-ray 3-D and blu-ray 2-D, DVD and digital formats. Likewise, a number of special features are included. An exclusive 3D deleted scene of Milo catching his mother being kidnapped is featured as are 7 2-D deleted and/or extended scenes totaling 29 minutes. Disney has also included a cool Picture-in-Picture motion capture experience - Life on Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience - which can be viewed both with and without audio commentary by writer/director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler. The commentary gives listeners a full overview of the film from script and motion-capture to computer animation and screen during which the Picture-in-Picture showcases the actor's live performances and the early animation. Other special features include a 3-minute Martian 101 short, which showcases the creation of the Martians' language, and a 2-minute Fun with Seth short showing Seth Green goofing off.
While the original story has been modified and thus loses some of its original appeal, the overall spirit remains. Mars Needs Moms is a fun-filled animated adventure aimed more at adults than kids, though kids will still find the story fun and exciting thanks to cool characters and plenty of action. Look for it now on 3-D blu-ray, blu-ray, and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley