The disc presents a widescreen 2.4:1 1080p 3D transfer and is Region free. I should point out that to avoid the floating black edges which is a common side effect of 3D pictures, this disc opts to completely mask each edge, this makes the picture look slightly smaller than the 2.4:1 quoted ratio.
Shot natively in 3D and with careful consideration to framing, what we have here is another spectacularly natural three dimensional image that rivals anything that live action can produce. First and foremost is the solidity to the objects within the composition, characters and their props are ‘round’ and have tangible ‘weight’ (this is as much to do with the animation and lighting as it is the 3D) with discernable front, middle and back – this is how we see the world and thus it looks absolutely real to us. When these ‘solid’ objects are set within a layered frame, there is tangible distance between objects and a real sense of fore, middle and background. Thankfully there are very few ‘point at the screen’ moments which, while they have the potential to look great are equally likely to take you out of the picture, the few that are used (dust, glass etc.) are tastefully done and work well within the confines of the narrative. Otherwise it’s all about the depth into the picture; there are plenty of overhead shots looking into the distance, be it the Mars scanner, or overlooking the vast dump, or the Martian landscape – each showcases substantial 3D depth and are of demo quality. The more intimate settings are just as likely to have something to draw the eye too, look at Gribble's lair, the many gaps in the walls showing plenty of distance to the far background; though for my money the best effect was of the ‘wormhole’ that the ship uses to travel between Earth and Mars – who’d have thought something in black space could look so convincing with the distance? Excellent stuff!
The rest of the picture fares just as well, being in the digital realm we have a pristine looking picture; with the only limit being the artist’s ‘pen’. Detail is excellent, skin, clothing weaves, hair and surface textures are all clean and clear. The intricate nature of the items in the dump are ‘reach out and touch’ good, especially when combined with the 3D elements. Reflections, dirt and other such items look amazingly real, really exceptional attention to detail here.
Colours are bright, bold and strong and grade exceptionally well. The lighting looks incredibly realistic, from the warm fire glow in the dump of the cold blues of the Martian city, shadows look great. But, perhaps, the best use of colour is in the underground river with the glowing walls that lend a warmth and urgency to the colour palette that, whilst ‘alien’ is wonderfully natural.
Contrast and brightness are set to give inky blacks (with the usual 3D caveat) that deepen the frame enhancing the 3D, and still maintain impressive shadow details when called for.
My passive technology showed absolutely no crosstalk to the image, though its slight lack of resolution was more apparent, for example the furnaces in the dumps, when seen from a distance, had a slightly blocky appearance, likewise there were a number of instances of aliasing, that are completely absent in the 2D version; this is a by product of the technology, though, and not a print defect. On the whole this is an extremely impressive picture and easily one to show off the benefits of the new technology.
I concentrate on the English dts-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. Once again Disney enhances their visuals with a remarkably able surround track that is every bit as exciting as the picture it relates too. Utilising all the speakers all the time, this really is the true definition of ‘surround sound’; and I don’t just mean effects, even though they are myriad, rather the entire experience is layered in such a way as to give front, middle and background sound. Dialogue is always clear and precise, sounds very natural and given directionality when needed. Bass comes through strong and low, with plenty of LF effects to keep the sub happy. John Powell’s score, though nothing remarkable, comes across with plenty of gusto utilising all the speakers. Stereo effects move both left/right and front/back, while the surrounds are used to bring plenty of ambience. The mix is a perfect accompaniment to the visuals.
- 3D Deleted Scene (HD, 3D) – Exclusive to the 3D disc is this short scene that focuses on Milo actually seeing the kidnap of his mom.
- Life on Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience (with or without commentary) – This, as the title suggests, is a picture in picture track where you can watch the actors filming their motion capture actions for later animation. Whilst this is an interesting watch in terms of how it was done, once you get past the novelty there is very little to watch, although it is nice to have the original sound, i.e. Seth Green’s voice and not Seth Dusky. Of much better value is playing the track with optional commentary from writer/director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler (there is no way to access the commentary track without viewing the PiP track as it directly relates to the motion capture, and not to the film) in which the three discuss, in a jovial and chatty way, the various components that went into designing, producing, acting in and being a part of the film. The three obviously have a great rapport and their chat can be infectious and engaging leading to an enjoyable listen.
- Fun with Seth (2.28, HD) – Extremely brief behind the scenes look at Seth Green skylarking about on set with a few soundbites from other members about is comic nature – actually I love the guy, even though this is a bit sappy, I still enjoyed it.
- Martian 101 (02.51) – Cast and crew discuss how the invented Martian language came about by simple improvisation and teach us a few phrases.
- Deleted Scenes (28.31, HD) – Seven deleted/extended scenes can be played individually or all together with the play all function. Each scene (indeed the play all is also) is given an introduction by Simon Wells where he explains the scene and why it was excised. Most are presented in unfinished animatic form with only one being of any real value; their titles are: Begonia Attack, Ad-libs from Gribble's Lair, Swinging Bride, Angry George Ribble, Gribble Growing Up, Mars Memorial and finally Extended Opening.
- Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon and Pumbaa – The same 3D ad that adorns every Disney 3D release.
Mars Needs Moms is producer Robert Zemeckis’ latest foray into 3D whole motion capture technology, bringing the Berkeley Breathed short novelisation to life. It tells the story of a Martian civilisation that kidnaps Earth mothers and uses their ‘mommy-ness’ to power their automated nanny-robots. But this time when Milo’s (our protagonist) mom, is taken he gives chase and manages to stow away aboard the spacecraft and meeting a gaggle of unlikely characters along the way, seeks to find a way to bring them both back home. What should be a simple kid’s adventure film about Martians, space, aliens and fun (for this is what the film is aiming at) takes the rather sinister approach of adding guilt and horror into a very realistic looking landscape in a number of scenes that are truly terrifying and traumatic for a child to watch. Add to this a very dark narrative, no matter how much colour or colourful characters are latter added to lighten the tone there is simply no coming back. I found the film awful in its depiction of love and loss, even if the overall message is a very positive one; too much time is spent on the wrong kind of emotional involvement – seriously who wants to watch their mother suffocate? This is a serious miscalculation from the normally family friendly Disney and one that I find extremely troublesome.
As a Region free 3D Blu-ray package, Disney has put together a very future proof set with 3D and 2D Blu-rays, a DVD and Digital copy, as well as exceptionally presented picture and sound and reasonable extras, this disc remains value, even if the film itself does not.
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