Mars Needs Moms 2D/3D (Blu-ray Review)

Mars Needs Moms arrived at my door and I was thrilled to see a computer animated movie that my son and I could enjoy together.  It’s hard for me to wait until he goes to bed at night to watch movies and the movies him and I watch together get old quickly.  I put in the Blu-ray disc and after seeing the Disney logo my son is insistent that he wants to get in the car and go to Disneyland and then, based on the previews, all he wants to watch is The Lion King.  After retrieving the remote and skipping the rest of previews I have my son calmed down and focused on Mars Needs Moms and we’re ready to begin.  Mars Needs Moms is the story from Disney and Academy Award-winner Robert Zemeckis of a young boy’s intergalactic adventure to find his Martian-nabbed mother which came as kind of a surprise until I realized that this wasn’t a G-rated movie like I thought it was.


Once I realized that the plot of the movie basically entailed Martians stealing moms in the middle of the night I began to have second thoughts on showing this to my three year old son.  This is a quite terrifying concept to my three year old that is clearly disturbed by the concept and is asking a lot of questions beginning with why.  At this point, I turn off the movie and realize I must wait until after my son’s bedtime to continue.  As Mars Needs Moms is rated PG,  it was clearly my own mistake in assuming that a computer animated movie from Disney was necessarily one for a pre-schooler.

Seth Green plays Milo, a typical nine year old boy (voice actor Seth Dusky) who complains about answering the phone, finishing his vegetables and dreams of a world where no one has to take out the trash.  After an argument with his mother over broccoli Milo had fed to the cat, Milo tells his mom (Joan Cusack) that he’d be better off without her.  This hurts his mom’s feelings  and Milo is unable to sleep well realizing that what he said was wrong.  Milo goes to apologize and finds his mother is being abducted by Martians.  Trying to save his mom, Milo ends up aboard the spaceship and is taken to Mars.

On Mars, Milo quickly finds an ally – another human named Gribble (Dan Fogler) who helps him escape the Martians and eventually explains why the Martians want Milo’s mom.  It turns out that Martians are born (from the ground) and are immediately sorted by gender.  Boys are sent to the trash heap and girls, who are trainable, are raised by nanny bots.  For that to work, the Martians need human moms to program the nanny bots.  They have been observing Earth mothers and pass by those with unruly children.  Mom’s like Milo’s who have normally well behaved and overall obedient children, are targets for the Martians, led by the Supervisor (Mindy Sterling).  As Gribble explains it, the supervisor is like the cafeteria lunch lady, only with the power to kill you on sight.  In my opinion, she looks like ET’s hairy grandma.

Milo wants his mom back and the rescue plan puts Milo in need of rescuing.  That is when Milo meets Ki (Elisabeth Hanois), a sweet Martian girl who learned English from Earth television shows from the 1970s.  She is not like the other Martians and has been tagging their pristine buildings with colors and flowery designs.  The Martians have been told they were always raised by nanny bots, but Milo and Gribble help Ki realize that Martians once had families too.  As we learn more about Gribble and how he came to be on Mars, we learn that the memory downloading process killed Gribble’s mother.  Milo must save his own mom from the same fate so they can return to Earth and to Milo’s dad (Tom Everett Scott) who is returning home from a business trip.

Mars Needs Moms is visually impressive.  Watching the special features I have learned that the film was made through motion capture.  In the case of Milo and Gribble I often thought that the animated characters visually had an amazing amount of depth.  On the other hand, Milo’s mom did not.  She seemed very stiff and unrealistic.  It was easy to forget that Milo and Gribble were computer generated but it was always obvious with Milo’s mom.


Both the 1080p/MVC encoded 3D presentation and 1080p/AVC encoded 2D versions are visually impressive.  The multiple colors looked amazing and there was a lot of detail throughout the film.  The filmmakers took advantage of the digital universe to create some really bold, dramatic colors.  I would assume the hardest part of a film like this would be making the humans look realistic.  As a filmmaker you could take liberties with a Martian but everyone knows what a man should look like.  I thought the character Gribble looked the most realistic but his blushing was over exaggerated.  Textures (both human and inorganic) look fantastic.  Black levels are suitably inky and the contrast is excellent.   I am still a 2D girl who usually finds 3D a little distracting.  In a few instances the 3D presentation wasn’t perfectly aligned, but I was impressed that the movie wasn’t full of typical 3D gags where items are constantly flying at the viewers face.  Where the 3D image does beat the 2D version is the sense of depth which adds quite a bit of immersiveness.  The 3D image is just as sharp and colorful as the 2D image and I think it’s great that Disney offers you the choice of both formats to choose from.  In this case, both of them are very impressive!


Mars Needs Moms is presented in DTS Master Audio 7.1 surround sound.  While the beginning of the movie doesn’t have a lot going on, the movie and the audio really take off when Milo and his Mom blast into space.  The use of all channels is obvious and apparent throughout the rest of the film and directional sound effects had me looking over my shoulder on more than one occasion. The dialogue is clear and consistent and I was pleased with the audio presentation as a whole.

Special Features

Mars Needs Moms has some interesting special features, but I wish there were more.  Watching Seth Green goof around was very entertaining, but I would have requested more information about the making of.  In addition to the special features, there is motion capture footage shown during the credits of the film, which I thought was a nice touch for viewing in the theater.

  • Mom-Napping (All-new 3D Exclusive) (HD) – Milo catches his mother’s abductors in the act in this deleted scene.
  • Life on Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience (HD) – The  Picture-in-Picture motion-capture experience can be viewed with or without audio commentary featuring writer/director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 29 minutes) – Wells introduces seven deleted/extended scenes.  Some of these are in their final formats others are early unfinished scenes.  “Begonia Attack,” “Ad-libs from Gribble’s Lair,” “Swinging Bride,” “Angry George Ribble,” “Gribble Growing Up,” “Mars Memorial” and an “Extended Opening.”
  • Martian 101 (HD) -Wells and the cast discuss creating the Martians language.  Cast ad-libbed until a speakable language was born and specific phrases were decided on.
  • Fun with Seth (HD, 2 minutes) – Seth Green has a good time on the set.  I wish this feature had been longer.  Clearly, acting like a 9 year old is very easy for Seth who creates songs and dances while doing the motion capture performance.

Final Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie but at the same time  I am disappointed that it wasn’t appropriate for my three year old as it’s one I would not mind watching again from time to time.   Maybe I’m oversensitive because I’m a mom, but I just think it’s a bad idea to have a kids movie about mom’s being abducted while the children are sleeping.  It’s hard enough to get my son in bed and convince him that our house is a safe place free on monsters, aliens or anything spooky that goes bump in the night.  On the other hand, Monsters, Inc. is another movie that’s also has a scary concept for kids with its monsters in the closet, yet that has become one of my son’s favorites.  Maybe, in a few years, Mars Needs Moms will be too.

Order your copy today!


1 Response to “Mars Needs Moms 2D/3D (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Matt Goodman

    ‘Mars Needs Moms’ is not a great film, it isn’t even too good, which places it in the average zone. I found the first act very bright and promising, but the story falls apart and becomes uninteresting in the last two acts. The main aspect that really caught my eye was the flawlessly impressive animation, which was done my motion capture technology, if I’m remembering right. The animation was astounding to look at, as well as the realism of these visuals making animation more real than ever. The same animation team that provided the award winning effects for ‘The Polar Express’. Despite the fact that the film is beautiful to look at, the writing is poor, the main character is an extremely unlikable brat, Dan Foggler is at his least funny, and there isn’t much originality. Another gripe I had with this film were the Martians animation, which in my opinion were not original, nor well-made. However, Seth Green and Joan Cusack are great actors, and bring some humor to the stage, and with great animation, ‘Mars Needs Moms’ is watchable, but easily forgettable.