Surly 9-year-old Milo (performed by Green with Seth Dursky's voice) is annoyed by the way his mother (Cusack) runs an efficient house. But this is precisely what the Martian Supervisor (Sterling) needs to help her raise her regimented planet's female population (the useless males are sent to an underground rubbish tip). After Milo accidentally hitches a ride to Mars, he's found by a human, Gribble (Fogler), who's hiding underground. And they meet a friendly Martian (Harnois) who wants to help them find and rescue Mom.
The premise has potential, but the bright, funny tone is underscored by some inherent sexism that's never properly dealt with. So the film is insulting to both men and women, as well as the aged. This won't bother children, who will also miss the vaguely suggestive humour and creepy Nazi vibe. To them, the Supervisor will just be a cranky old granny who would rather shoot someone than talk reasonably. The whole kidnapping earth-kids' mums thing might worry children a bit more.
At least the animation often looks spectacular, as the gorgeous Martian settings are rendered with a remarkable attention to detail. The voice work is especially strong, with the lively sense of interaction coming from the fact that the cast actually performed the scenes on a soundstage. And the character design is very clever, even if the skin looks like plastic. Milo and Gribble do have more texture in close-up, and the Supervisor looks like worn burlap, but Cusack and Scott (briefly as Milo's dad) look like mannequins.
So the real question is why Zemeckis persists in making movies like this. He seems to at least have overcome the dead-eyes problem that makes Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol deeply creepy. But clearly this film would have worked better if the humans were actually human. That said, you might not mind as much if the script felt like it was fully thought through.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th March 2011
Box Office USA: $21.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $39.5M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 70
IMDB: 5.4 / 10
Director: Simon Wells
Screenwriter: Simon Wells, Wendy Wells
Starring: Seth Green as Milo (voice), Joan Cusack as Mom (voice), Dan Fogler as Gribble (voice), Breckin Meyer as Alien (voice), Elisabeth Harnois as Ki (voice), Tom Everett Scott as Milo's Dad (voice), Mindy Sterling as Supervisor (voice), Julene Renee as Martian (voice), Raymond Ochoa as Martian Hatchling (voice), Robert Ochoa as Martian Hatchling (voice), Ryan Ochoa as Martian Hatchling (voice), Seth Robert Dusky as Milo (voice) (as Seth Dusky)
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