Mars Needs Moms is many things. It's a $150 million sci-fi "epic." It's also an epic flop. And failure. But as bad as it is, it deserves praise: this movie singlehandedly destroyed Robert Zemeckis' terrible motion capture studio and forced the once-acclaimed director back to live action films.
Mars Needs Moms is as bad as it looks, a colorful yet dreadfully dull disaster directed and co-written by Simon Wells. On a superficial level, the movie suffers from the same problems that other Zemeckis-produced motion capture films are plagued with: the special effects just don't look right. Wells paints the movie with vibrant color, but everything else looks out-of-date, a repainted rust bucket.
The people look less creepy than they used to, but they still appear stilted and unnatural. The settings and backgrounds are almost cool, but lack detail and fluidity. The world Wells has created doesn't "wow" in the way intended.
But the problem isn't the visuals. It's the story, the script and the dialogue. Mars Needs Moms is just boring. At only 88 minutes it feels long, slogging from one scene to the next without any sense of tension or excitement. More importantly, it isn't fun.
The best animated movies can have serious moments while remaining fun, but Mars Needs Moms never taps into the imagination any good kid's movie should. The movie is about a boy who travels to Mars to save his mom from certain death - that should blow the minds of little kids - and yet Mars Needs Moms takes itself too seriously. If anything, it wants to be a legitimate sci-fi epic, but is written for little kids. And not very well.
Mars Needs Moms is an epic, but not the epic Wells wanted to make. It's big, bloated and shockingly bland, lacking intrigue, excitement and humor. It isn't fun and it isn't funny. In other words, the spaceship blows up on takeoff.
The Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, now available, unfortunately just gives us even more Mars Needs Moms. The main features are an extended opening (oh hell no!) and deleted scenes (why didn't they delete the rest of the movie?). There is a cool feature that goes behind the scenes to look at the full-motion capture, but the only one really worthwhile is "Fun with Seth", which has Seth Green and Dan Fogler running around the set acting like morons.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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