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Mars Needs Moms by John Powell (Review)

posted Mar 10, 2011, 11:00 AM by Kaya Savas

Mars Needs Moms was a project announced a few years ago and originally Hans Zimmer was attached to score. Due to scheduling conflicts most likely due to Rango and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Hans had to step down. John Powell took the project and is in no way a replacement but probably a better choice. There is no denying the fact that John is the king of animation these days. John had a monumental 2010 which earned him his first Oscar nomination for what was without a doubt his best score. Is Mars Needs Moms on the level of How To Train Your Dragon? Almost.

What this score accomplishes is quite extraordinary and there is no match to what John Powell brings to any feature. His scores are perfectly structured and tell the story all on their own. His themes are chill inducing and his style is unmistakable. That signature note progression, that rhythmic percussion and emotion that makes your spirit soar. The score starts off and introduces us to our themes and our main character. Powell uses a bit of electronics to set the mood and add the sci-fi element. Beeps, pops, squeaks, ticks and tacks give the score that "space" atmosphere. As the score moves forward the music is a nonstop emotional force. The music rises and falls giving us what I can only describe as sentimental action.

As we enter the final act Powell loses the space age feel of the music and it becomes standard John Powell brilliance. "The Sacrifice" is a beautiful piece of music and has a large amount of human heart to it which is what we've come to expect. As the score winds down in a warm and emotional ending we are left with a tad of spunk and hint of adventure. Then we dive into the end credits suite which sums up everything we've just experienced. The "Martian Mambo" is the last track and channels Powell's "Mini Sloths Sing-A-Long" from Ice Age: The Meltdown. The music overall is a blend of themes heard in Ice Age, Horton Hears A Who and I even heard a little Shrek.

A trait of John Powell is that while his sound is the most recognizable his scores are in no ways rehashes of anything he's done before. Powell has never been afraid to try things that some may think to be unconventional. He's also one of the few composers that I can say I grew up listening to from the start of his career. I remember holding the Face/Off soundtrack when I was 10 years old; his first score while he was still working at Hans Zimmer's studio. I've heard every score of his growing up and have seen how his music has evolved and grown. John's music has a richness and boldness that is unmatched. I can identify any of his scores from listening to a few seconds of it and each one brings a different rush of emotions. Mars Needs Moms doesn't hold the emotional weight that How To Train Your Dragon does, but it's still incredibly fantastic with moments of arresting beauty. 2011 will be most likely strictly animation for John as we have Rio coming up, Kung Fu Panda 2 with Hans and Happy Feet 2.
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