Top critical review
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Great visuals, Great Audio, Corny Plot!
on September 1, 2013
Mars needs Moms is another one of those rare CGI movies that are done completely with motion capture. In this respect it's very similar to Polar Express. For example, there's a scene near the beginning of the movie with his cat that you would swear that it is a real cat. The graphics are that good! The visuals on Mars are equally fantastic.
This is backed up by an English DTS-HD 7.1 soundtrack that's as good as anything you'll hear in any live action movie. Although being from a couple of years ago, unfortunately it has that same Disney DTS audio bug as Secret of the Wings and John Carter that all Disney movies had around that time. That causes the DTS (only) audio track to develop an echo every ten to fifteen minutes when decoded through certain AV receivers like my Denon. (You have to pause momentarily to get back a normal DTS soundtrack when you hear it!) But it's not a problem with most set-ups.
As for the movie, it bombed at the box office and now that I've seen it I can see why. Despite the outstanding visuals and equally good audio; the plot is really, really corny and cliché! Now there's nothing inherently wrong with a corny storyline of youthful alienation provided it's balanced out with good comedy and equally good action. But Mars needs Moms has two major flaws.
Firstly there's virtually no comedy to balance out the teen angst. Instead they've taken what should have been a great looking kids action comedy movie and instead have tried to turn it into a sci-fi soap opera! So when the angst kicks in, it simply stops the action cold. And without humour to balance it out, it just gets too depressing at those points
The other problem is the plot, there really isn't one! Basically he hitches a ride to Mars to save his mom, finds a couple of allies, starts a revolution and goes home. Time and time again I had major deja vu with scenes that looked like they had been lifted straight out of any one of half a dozen Star Wars movies; just not as good. Hanging on to a building ledge...... anyone remember Obi-Wan on the Death Star? Being chased through endless white tunnels, blasters blazing...... Hey we're doing a 3D movie here, we have to put in lots of corridors and blasters! Martians who stand around or march around in face covering uniforms but never actually do anything....... Can you say Clone troopers? Hatchling revolt....... can anybody say Ewoks? The writer apparently must have been a great Star Wars fan. The whole movie is absolutely full of clichés and you can see the plot coming from the next county.
So I'm not quite sure how to rate this? The visuals are outstanding and the motion capture doesn't look creepy like it did in Polar Express; so that definitely deserves 5 stars! The audio is equally as good but then there's that little Disney audio bug that can drive folks like me up the wall? So let's call the audio 4 stars instead of 5! And then there's the plot? Lots of action for the kids, but the angsty parts do tend to get in the way and are sooooo predictable! The clichés can drive adults crazy! Especially as there's so many better animated movies out there that do the same thing, only better. Everything from Shrek to Monsters vs. Aliens to Disney's own Lion King and Pixar's Cars and Wall-E. Even Disney's Tinkerbell movies do it better. So perhaps 3 stars for the kids who may not notice and 2 to 2-1/2 stars for the adults who will.
So overall, it's probably best only for kids who like lots of sound and motion. I doubt adults would want to watch this more than once! I will rate this a 3 but only for those under ten!