Film (2011). ImageMovers and Walt Disney Productions. Directed by Simon Wells, starring Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler. Screenplay Simon and Wendy Wells, based on the illustrated book by Berkeley Breathed. 88 minutes. Colour, 3D.
A totalitarian Martian gynocracy (> Mars) has imposed a Metropolis-like division between a gleaming technocratic upper City and a Morlock sewer level for the males, with the maternal function outsourced to disposable one-shot robot nannies implanted with the parenting skills of abducted human mothers, to whom the transfer is fatal; but a ten-year-old boy stows away, allies with the now-adult survivor of an earlier attempt, exposes the anti-familial Dystopia as forced social engineering, and leads the dispossessed males in an uprising to restore a family-based society and save his mother from the death machine. This expensive performance-capture flop, which led Disney to sever its links with Robert Zemeckis's ImageMovers studio, follows The Time Machine (2002) in engaging the director with material derived from his great-grandfather H G Wells – here a composite of The Time Machine (1895), The War of the Worlds (1898), and When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), but with a vehemently anti-socialist and anti-Feminist message. Visually and technically the most successful of ImageMovers' performance-capture slate, the film marks an astonishingly ill-judged nadir in Hollywood exploitation of its young target audience's most vulnerable emotions, with a particularly distressing climax of maternal Scheintod and sustained manipulation of separation anxiety throughout. The title alludes to the Television film Mars Needs Women (1967). [NL]
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