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Feature Film

“Mars Needs Moms” trailer

Simon Wells directs this Image Movers Digital (re: Zemeckis) production. Disney is releasing it in March. Mo-cap or Mo-crap? You decide:

(Thanks, Ben Price)

  • Art

    Product with a capital ‘p’.

  • Dubble

    Mo-crap? Is that really the extent of your critical thinking abilities.

    • Mark

      Not even a question. It’s pure mo-crap.

  • Holy crap that looks ugly. Why the hell would they think mo-cap is a good idea for this, and why not use the opportunity to inject a bit more style and characterization into the design? It looks like they just thought it would cost too much to blend live action with the mars setting, so they voted ugly. If your production choices come down to bad versus ugly, why make the film?

  • To be honest, I really liked the story pacing and alot of the lighting on Robert Zemekis’ other mocap stuff, especially Polar Express. I dont doubt that this could be a fun, possibly moving, well told story.

    But there is NO DOUBT, that this motion capture thing just DOESNT work with human characters. These characters seem just as lifeless as the ones from Polar express and the other films, it just doesnt work. Its frustrating because some of the dialogue sounds great but the faces are just so uninteresting. I hope these filmakers realize that soon and start using this technology for humanoid characters and backgrounds OR just start fully animating more projects like this.

    I havent read the book by Breathed but does anyone know if this looks faithful to the book or is it an adaption in name only?

    • Cody

      Looks and feels nothing like the book – which in itself is fairly simple. Kid argues with mom. Mom gets kidnapped. Kid goes to rescue Mom.

      I’m willing to bet the ending is probably similar – since really it’s the most effective part of the story. It’s all very ‘Where the Wild Things are’ with a bit more ‘quirk’.

      Sucks that the art is so drastically different…that’s probably one of the most charming parts of the story.

  • The fact that there’s hardly a single closeup in that trailer make you wonder if they know how ugly a lot of this stuff looks and don’t want to show it too closely.

    I’m not necessarily anti mo-cap, but I’ll never understand why you’d spend so much time and money recreating a regular run-of-the-mill human in CG. You could likely just comp in a real actor and both have it look better and probably cost less.

  • Sherrie

    The designs for the characters are really unappealing. Just flat out UGLY, humans and aliens.

  • Animate it or shoot it in live-action, but this looks butt ugly.

  • Joe

    If they would have kept it in the style of the original artwork, I wouldn’t mind. It’s when they try to make it ulra-real, then I question why they don’t use actual actors.

  • I saw the trailer in Imax and it made my die a little inside.


  • I didn’t even know I could keep vomit down so effectively until today.

    Thanks mo-cap!

    • tonma

      I did’t know I could laugh so hard about vomit and this movie.
      Thanks mo-cap!

  • I got to admit the fat guy is one of the most realistic CGI humans I’ve seen and he doesn’t look too fake or inexpressive. Other than that this looks pretty odd, some things I like, others not so much. The aliens designs are pretty different to the human beings. They are more cartoony but probably uglier than the realistic humans for once.

    • Spencer

      So the fat guy is the equivalent to the horse in Tangled…. But it still doesn’t save this junk.

  • Zach Bellissimo

    REALLY TERRIBLE LOOKING! And the jokes and story don’t seem too new either. It just looks like more polished mo-cap garbage. We should make a strike against mo-cap, whose with me???

  • Title card SHOULD read:
    We could do without it.

  • Isaac

    Yeah, alright, up-close the designs are disturbing, but the animation is surprisingly original and interesting.

  • Caitlin

    why??? WHY?? absolutly no need to do this in mocap.

    If you want it to look like real shoot reall actors…you had to get actors to act it out anyway for the mocap data!

  • Arthur Melish


    How about some style?

    Even straight live-action would be better
    then this travesty.

    What if this were animated in 2D like
    “Iron Giant” or in 3D like “The Incredibles”
    then this would be worth seeing.

  • Let’s all try to think of some of the good things in this trailer….

    I like the cat at the beginning… he’s cool

  • mike taylor

    Ugh. As a long-time Breathed fan, I was hoping for the best with this one. Unfortunately, this bears no resemblance to the book at all, (here are some images from the book – ) and, well, let’s just say I’ve never been a fan of mo-cap.

    Some day, I hope someone does his books justice again. I love A Wish For Wings That Work.

  • And this is CG….why?

  • Alissa

    There’s something subliminal about how much vomit was referenced in that trailer, was someone trying to tell us something?

    Good things…hmm…the little robot was cute, I liked him.

    • And his assessment at the end of the trailer was spot-on.

  • Law

    I know it’s just a trailer but I feel like it’s trying so hard to be likable

  • Eric Drobile

    At first I thought it said “Mars Needs Noms”…I was sadly disappointed.

  • optimist

    It always bears repeating that trailers are animals unto themselves. They are never, ever cut by the director or even anyone of the actual crew. Okay, maybe Kubrick cut his own, but that’s about the extent of a trailer being any kind of good representation of a movie. Everyone who reads this blog regularly should know that by now be they student, pro or fan.

    Jerry, say “mo-cap or mo-crap? You decide.” To Simon’s face. I dare you.

    Me, I don’t like mo-cap at all. A personal reaction. But this film might be great entertainment regardless. or not. We’ll see.

  • Ben

    I suppose I just don’t get the necessity for mo-cap on realistic humans. Something like Avatar, or some humanoid characters like Golem in Lord of the Rings, yes. These bland humans in Mars Needs Moms could have easily been real actors. What is the point, really? Either have a live-action/CGI hybrid, or just animate it fully. If the goal is to someday replace actors with animation…they have a LONG way to go!

  • qwerty

    Tangled looks a little better now. I’m kidding–I never had much of an objection to the designs in Tangled.

    Why not just shoot the actors and make the aliens CGI? Or make it a cartoon CGI like Tangled, Bolt, or Meet the Robinsons? Or 2D? Or puppets? Puppets are cool.

  • purin

    Special effects look good. Too bad about the people. Fat guy’s not too bad, though.

    Something really bothers me about the kids’ voice.

    (I liked broccoli as a kid…)

    • Zartok-35

      It’s Seth Green palying the kid, and they’ve done something to his voice. Seth is capable of far better performances than this. Not as whiny, anyway.

  • Spencer

    The kid looks more like he’s from Mars than the aliens. What the hell?

  • Jeff H

    Sad. Why would you buy a book by one of the most popular cartoonists of the 20th century and then make an “animated” movie out of it that bears zero resemblance to his distinctive graphic style, forget the storyline? It’s almost incomprehensible.

    I notice they didn’t even bother using a “from the creator of Bloom County” kind of thing.

    Very sad.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Well, Breathed got what he wanted (which might be nothing besides a fat check and a hearty good-bye).

  • Peter W

    the “No Gravity” title sums it up nicely.
    Zemeckis must really love the uncanny valley, since he keeps making films there.

  • Sorry, for a moment there I thought that I was watching “Waking Dead”. I didn’t even get to the aliens…

  • uncle wayne

    Looks terriff! But, damn, those Martian Moms are HOTTIES!

  • majic

    I have less to gripe about on this film than his other mo-cap stuff- the trailer wasn’t half-bad. But….. the kid looks like he’s got the nose of a goat. The nerd guy is well-animated too, but I wish they’d give him more jiggle physics in his fat.

  • Cody

    Also…kind of surprised they opted for Seth Green to provide the voice over a real kid (a la Monster House). Unfortunately for us – Seth only has the one voice.

  • Steve

    This is the kind of crap that gives Disney a bad name.

  • Yeah, the mo-cap looks creepy. But I’m more irritated by the insistence on snarky dialogue to carry these. No matter how this is filmed, with this script this will be dated the minute it comes out.

  • Baron Lego

    Those undead mannequins still scare me.

  • DonaldC

    …I don’t understand the point.

  • As if that wasn’t bad enough. AWN reports “Robert Zemeckis is in negotiations with Warner Bros. to remake THE
    WIZARD OF OZ from the original 1939 script” Just when you thought he couldn’t sink any lower.

  • The little boy looks as if he’s preparing to declare his intent to poo at Paul’s.

    This trailer is very unpleasant.

  • Karen

    That looks terrible. The designs are bad enough, but the bad compositions, horrible layouts and camera work, and cheap looking lighting really put this in the pantheon of BAD FILM MAKING. Sorry to hear all those folks lost their jobs, but I’m glad the kinds of films they’ve made (all of them) are being put to rest. They should have gotten someone with SOME animation experience to direct this film. Truly awful.

  • Soapy

    Uncanny vallleeeyyyyy

    • PeteR

      She probably meant “someone with GOOD film making/animation ability.”

  • Steven M.

    Well that was definatley mo-crap. Now I don’t need to see it because I already know it’s garbage because the trailer pretty much spoiled everything, but to be honest, just the title of the movie spoiled it immediatley.

  • Darío

    Mo-crap, mo-of the same.

  • Tee

    All of the clumsiness of The Thunderbirds and none of the charm.

  • Why would you buy a Berkeley Breathed story and then not use his style? I can understand it if you’re going for an inventive twist, like Spike Jonze did with Where the Wild Things Are. But here it seems like there were two possible reasons for dispensing with Breathed’s style. One is that it would be too hard to do in CG (which begs the question of why they wouldn’t just do it hand-drawn), and the other is because audiences might find its quirkiness off-putting–so they actually made the character design blander for a wider appeal. The latter case would be a more damning statement artistically, but at least it has logic.

    • Exactly! Berkeley Breathed is one of the most famous american cartoonists, the creator of Opus and Bloom County!!! Ignoring his style is a slap in the face against the art form.

  • Stephan

    Well, I think it looks good!

  • greg m.

    Why, Lord, why?

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    It looks fun. I do hope Zemeckis scraps his proposed Wizard of Oz remake though.

  • Th eyCallMeShine

    Anyone else annoyed by the fact that Breathed didn’t even get a mention in the trailer?

    Also, I have issues with ImageMovers. Their comedy feels misplaced, tends to fall flat, or completely destroys the atmosphere created before the so called “joke”

    I’m looking at you awkwardly paced Christmas Carol!!
    Please pass the Muppets. I think I’ll take some retro this Christmas!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    It does come off kinda odd really, but perhaps someone in Publicity thought nobody was going to know him at all even if they said “From the creator of Bloom County”, I dunno. It does seem a little let down he’s not getting recognition otherwise.

  • Yeah ! another mo-crap film !

  • Animate ED

    Is it possible that Mo-Cap is becoming even more creepy? The kids eyes scare me a bit.

  • The Gee

    The eyes. They don’t scare me but the do point to a missed opportunity.

    The eyes.

    That’s just one of the things stands out to me in these trailers for mocap movies. They aren’t expressive enough. The eyebrows might be expressive but the eyes, the brow and the cheeks don’t always seem to be in play as secondary action/follow through goes.

    (well, most CG cartoons bother me, too. The hyper-realism of the irises that they doesn’t always seem warranted and results in that glassy look…if you look at them closely)

    Breathed’s approach to eyes is particular. Even his new storybook style–mostly digital, I believe–has that look that is his Evolved version of The Doonesbury Syndrome, to borrow and twist a phrase from R. Crumb. I’m not sure if the eyes would translate without extensive keyframing being done. Though that still doesn’t explain why they didn’t at least try to be evocative of Breathed’s style.

    Charm is missing as a result. That’s a shame because charm goes really well with animation and adds to appeal.

  • Bruno Bolisarte

    Saw this last night before Harry Potter.

    First, mo-cap or no, the “uncanny valley” aspect of the humans is really striking. They’re lifelike, but in a way that gives you a deeply creepy feeling.

    Second, the plot looks completely empty and the gags insulting.

    This is going to suck big-time.

  • Just what every movie needs…an annoying overweight man-child. Pass.

  • NC


    So Robert Zemekis is in a room with Disney Execs. Disney says,”We don’t want to make fairy tales anymore and we don’t want artists making our films, you got any ideas, Robert?

    Zemekis being the f-tard genius that he is says, “Lets make a “Shark Tale” level Dreamworks movie with Avatar technology.”

    All Disney hears is “Avatar” and they go ballstic, “We can make millions… oh but we don’t have the money for that kind of technology.”

    Zemekis says, “It’s ok Mo-Cap always looks better than any normal animation and it’s always big success just look at Avatar and… … …
    (waves hands in Jedi like motion)

    Disney execs, “Avatar”

    Zemekis “avatar”


  • No gravity…no rules…no appeal…no animation principles…should I keep going?

  • Why again had this to be an “animated” movie? It looks completely like a live action feature. It has nothing of the imagination, fantasy or design an animation film can offer.

    Yep, this trailer adds to my dislike of motion capture outside live action.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Again that seems to be a problem for most of us when it comes to films of this nature. It certainly could’ve worked as a live-action film with CGI characters if need be, than the other way around as we see here. The further we’re going down this road, the more problematic would it seem that these questions will keep coming up constantly over our perceptions of what constitutes an animated film when the medium continues to shift in this direction.

  • Damon

    Here’s a perspective from flyover country. I think this looks terrible, the animation looks really bad, the voicework has an annoying quality to it and it seems already dated. I will pass on this one.

  • Ryoku

    Well the backgrounds look nice.

  • red pill junkie

    The lighting’s so dark you never get a chance to take a good look at the char— Oooh!

  • Katella Gate

    Memo to Cartoon Brew:

    Many thanks for posting this trailer. You have saved me wasting several hours of my life and $10 on this stuff.

    Truly a public service.

  • pappy d

    Zemeckis plunges a little deeper into the Uncanny Valley. These characters show the same eerie listlessness but with more emotive dialog. Ugh!

    • red pill junkie

      With Zemckis, the Uncanny Valley turns into the Uncanny Abyss ;)

  • sigh

    Mo-Cap. Sigh.
    Reminds me of the WTF? effort those Charles Schwab commercials go to to make their customers look animatedly awful. As if that was the goal.
    This trailer looks like every other kids’ movie trailer, down to the obligatory poop joke.
    By the way, if it’s ostensilbly about mom…all I get from the trailer is he hates his mom and now’s he’s on an adventure. Does she show up again at the end?
    Nah. Won’t bother. Wasted too much money on mo-caps already.

  • Rufus

    The only time I’ve seen mo-cap used correctly is in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    The thing is, here, there’s only about 10% of movement expression captured. People just aren’t stick figures. The movement in this trailer just doesn’t feel right. At all. Compare this to Tangled, for example. I won’t go see this. I just know I won’t associate with the characters. I didn’t in the trailer, I won’t later.

    Besides – WHY is this MO-CAP? This didn’t have to be mo-cap. The kid is a kid. Get a kid. The fat guy in the robosuit could be a fat guy in a robosuit. Aliens can be animated. The mo-cap just looks bad. If I was offered to direct a mo-cap feature, I’d turn it down, just because I simply don’t believe it can look very good. Maybe if there was like 3000000 balls on the mo-cap suits and every muscle was being screened. Otherwise, this just looks creepy as hell.

  • Cyber Fox

    Mars Needs Moms = This Generation’s “Santa Claus Conquers The Martians”

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Oh where’s Dropo when we need him! :-)

  • Supposedly, ImageMovers is going to close its door with this film, right?… maybe the reign of the “uncanny valley” is coming to an end… (hope)

  • Just……………..Plain…………Creepy. It really is like watching the recently dead brought back to life and they have no idea how to move like a human.