The average rating for this movie by professional film critics is about
3.0 out of 5 stars. That average is realistic. I would probably give it
6.5 out of 10 if I could, but I didn't feel it was as bad as movies
I've given 6 out of 10 stars, so I gave it a 7 out of 10.
The movie uses motion-capture computer animation to apply more
realistic textures and movements to its characters, following movies
like A Christmas Carol (which wasn't as good), Beowulf (which was much
better), and The Polar Express (also much better).
Mars Needs Moms features a plot that wasn't demographically targeted
correctly. It features a boy who needs to rescue his mother from
awkwardly humanoid-looking Martians, but boys that age are working very
hard to separate themselves from needing their mothers. It is a very
natural consequence of a male's life. So while the movie might appeal
to mothers, I'm not sure it will appeal to boys.
The next problem, which exacerbates the previous one, is its timing.
The studio made a big, big mistake trying to release it at the same
time as Battle: Los Angeles, and only a week after Rango. Parents
already took their kids to Rango the weekend before, and the dads
really wanted to see Battle: Los Angeles (especially after being sorely
disappointed with the similarly themed Skyline last Fall).
A lot of movies in January through March have been juggled around
recently, causing all sorts of problems. Many movies were yanked from
their original release dates and moved out later in the year. But Mars
Needs Moms should have been released in early January. It would have
fared a lot better. As it is, the movie has been a complete disaster at
the Box Office. I fault Disney for the poor release strategy (they were
only the distributor, not the actual producer of the movie), and Simon
Wells for the rest.
There is also the point that a lot of viewers were troubled by the
Martians themselves. I think Simon Wells could have had his animators
design them a little more intelligently. They seemed awkward to me --
they were humanoid, but slightly differenced to a degree that some
people found disagreeable: legs too far apart, butts too big, and legs
like they were inflated with air. Mr. Wells also made the mistake of
giving the male Martians dreadlocks-like hair, which has accidentally
incited a lot of racist remarks, although racial nods was not intended.
(People really need to stop being oversensitive. Grow some skin,
There is an army of people flaming the movie, however, and the computer
animation is at the core of their argument, which is very curious. One
critic said, "Mars Needs Moms stands as the potentially final
Zemeckis-produced motion-capture effort, and, like The Polar Express,
Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol before it, its characters boast the waxy
complexions, unreal movements, and dead eyes of mannequins..." (Nick
Schager, The Village Voice)
What the...? I'm confused here. What standard is this critic holding
computer animated features to? I don't recall any waxy complexions or
unreal movements or dead eyes of mannequins in any of these movies, or
at least nothing that distracted me from the otherwise near
photo-realistic computer animation that has only been around a few
years. While they fall short of the realism of characters inserted into
live action movies such as Peter Jackson's King Kong and Gollum, or
George Lucas's Yoda in Star Wars episodes II & III, and certainly not
the characters in Avatar, it didn't strike me as being a requirement in
an animated feature to be THAT photo-realistic. Nobody complained about
Shrek's movements being unrealistic or his eyes being dead as a
mannequins, but clearly Shrek isn't being held to the same animation
standard. What gives?
While I'm not going to defend Mars Needs Moms on every point, I don't
understand the beating its taking from reviewers here at IMDb. It's a
fairly average film from a director who isn't very good to begin with,
with plotting that could have been better and could have been worse,
and some character design that could have been more intelligent. But
unfortunately there seems to be a subculture out there (probably made
up of mostly teens, and maybe even competing film marketers and
computer animation folk -- perhaps some Rango promoters attempting to
keep its returns high in the second week) who are throwing one stars
around IMDb with malignant glee. To give 1 out of 10 stars to this
movie is dishonest, and an abuse of having a rating system in the first
place. There were 404 people who gave A Bug's Life "1 star" for
example, and 3,284 who gave Shrek "1 star." And so forth. Movies need
to be rated with some perspective on similar movies.
Mars Needs Moms has some redeeming values. Not nearly as witty as
Tangled or Shrek, but easier to understand and more enjoyable than
Rango, which seemed to bore my two boys (4 and 7) whereas Mars Needs
Moms entertained them. In all fairness, Rango was intended for slightly
older children than mine, but I'm a pretty old child myself, with a lot
more filmmaking, movie-going, and storytelling experience than the
average IMDb reviewer, and I didn't find Rango nearly as brilliant as
Johnny Depp's ground-worshipers claim.
My advice to you, if you haven't seen Mars Needs Moms, is ask your kid
if he or she is interested, and if so, take them. Forget about what you
hear about it on IMDb boards, it's likely tainted.