- Composed by John Powell
- Walt Disney Records download / 2011 / 49:20
I can’t be the only person who feels like bringing out that famous Captain Picard facepalm picture whenever he sees the words “motion capture” and “Robert Zemeckis” within the same sentence; oops, need to bring it out again. Zemeckis served as produced of Mars Needs Moms, directed by Simon Wells, whose film of his great-grandfather’s The Time Machine almost a decade ago seems to have simultaneously started and ended his career directing live action films. Wells worked with James Horner on his first few animations before perhaps his most famous, The Prince of Egypt, saw him collaborate with Hans Zimmer. In 2011, if you’re making an animated film and you don’t work for Pixar, you must follow the United Nations Security Council Resolution which forbids you from hiring a composer who has not at some point in his career been associated with Zimmer. Fortunately, there is no finer film composer who fits that description than John Powell, whose services were hence secured.
Powell scores approximately 4.5 million animated films each year – and he’s very good at it. Last year’s How To Train Your Dragon didn’t strike me as being one of his more distinguished efforts, but I was seemingly alone in that opinion; Mars Needs Moms represents a real return to form as far as I’m concerned, his finest score for an animation since the wonderful Happy Feet. First and foremost, it is fabulously great fun, the composer seemingly having a blast with the story’s humour (maybe some of the four other people who have seen the film also had a blast with it, it’s not altogether clear). There’s a great main theme which is exploited an awful lot through the score, but Powell has a way of writing such fluid melodies, it never grows tiresome. There’s some magnificent orchestral action music; the requisite softer passages which are perfectly positioned in the album to offer lovely breathing room; delightful Elfmanesque theremin (I know purists will shout “How dare he! It’s not Elfmanesque, it’s Herrmannesque!” but this is channelling Mars Attacks! more obviously than anything else); it’s simply a whole heap of fun, pure entertainment from start to finish. ****