Mars Needs Moms

Composed by: John Powell

Distributed by: Walt Disney Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based on a book by Berkeley Breathed, Mars Needs Moms is a 3D computer animated film from Walt Disney Pictures about a nine-year-old boy named Milo (Seth Green / Seth Dusky) whose mother (Joan Cusack) is abducted by Martians.  Milo eventually discovers that the female race of Martians are raised by nanny robots who can only accomplish child rearing through the use of Earthling mothersí memories.  Miloís mother is scheduled to undergo a procedure that will provide the nanny robots with what they need, but will kill her in the process.  With the help of the tech-savvy Gribble (Dan Fogler), his bionic pet Two-Cat (Dee Bradley Baker) and Martian Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), Milo must rescue his mother or risk losing her forever.

            The musical score of Mars Needs Moms was composed by John Powell, a British composer who began his musical career by learning to play the violin as a child. After studying at the Trinity College of Music in London, Powell became  interested in jazz and rock and began performing in the band The Fabulistics.  Powell began composing music for commercials before becoming an assistant to composer Patrick Doyle.  In 1995, he co-founded Independently Thinking Music, a London-based commercial music house responsible for the creation of over 100 musical scores for British and French commercials and independent films. In 1997, John Powell moved to the United States and became a well-sought-after composer, creating musical scores for X-Men: The Last Stand, Happy Feet, Green Zone, Jumper, How to Train Your Dragon, Bolt and more.

            The soundtrack of Mars Needs Moms starts off with an ethereal style.  There is a hint of purpose in the first track, Mars Observers, which also contains some rather interesting birdlike sounds.  I say birdlike, because although it sounds like a bird tweeting, as you listen, there is a somewhat alien quality to the sound.  Action takes over from there as Miloís mom is abducted with horns blaring, strings moving at a hectic pace and heightened crescendo, cymbals crashing and ethereal vocals.  There are also some alien bubbling sounds inserted in there, reminding us that this is an alien abduction we are witnessing. 

            Much of the soundtrack is action based, but there are some tracks in which there is a pause from the hectic action pace.  These tracks, Gribbleís Loss in particular, offer up some beautiful, if not somber piano composition.  Yet, even on these tracks, there are some sounds like the sliding flute, used to remind us that this epic is taking place on an alien planet in outer space.  A bit of comedic styling is apparent on the last track of the album, Martian Mambo, which features some electronic vocals in the Martian language set to a mambo style dance number.

            John Powell has done an excellent job in creating a soundtrack for an animated  science fiction adventure film that is geared towards a child audience.  The music is action-packed in just the right moments and features a fun alien flare thanks to the sliding flute and other electronic sound featured in most of the tracks.  The Mars Needs Moms Soundtrack is an excellent example of tailoring music to fit the visuals of the film.  Iím not quite certain how well it would do as a stand alone album, but Iím certain that any fan of the film will have no problem imagining the scenes playing out to the music they were composed for while listening to this album.


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