Quick Reviews: Mars Needs Moms / Rio

Mars Needs Moms
Music composed by John Powell
Orchestrated by: Pete Anthony, Brad Dechter, John Ashton Thomas, Beth Caucci, Michael John Mollo, Germaine Franco, Dave Metzger
Additional music by: Michael Z. Gordon, Paul Mounsey
Conducted by: Pete Anthony
Album time: 49 minutes
Available on Walt Disney Records

The animated film monster, John Powell, released two scores this year – Mars Needs Moms being the first.
  Most known for his collaboration with DreamWorks Animation, Powell previously worked with Disney on Bolt (2008).  Coming off his recent Oscar nomination for How to Train Your Dragon, Powell is as requested and popular as he was before. 

Unfortunately, Mars Needs Moms is quite similar to his previous scores to Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon.
  Luckily for Powell this isn’t exactly a bad thing.  His scores are enjoyable on many levels – featuring great themes and memorable moments (just not as many as Dragons).  He has been varying his sound over the years, using less electronic beats and going with a more orchestral sound.  I really enjoyed the heroic theme in Mars Needs Moms, even if some moments sound like the Shrek theme.  The track Enjoy the Ride contains a theme very similar to Hiccup’s theme in Dragons.  Several times through the score a chorus was used to great effect.  Also included was the sound of a Theremin – a must for sci-fi scores.  In Gribble’s Loss, Powell uses a piano for one of the tenderest moments of the score.  The piano isn’t often used for solos in Powell’s scores, so that was a welcome change.  I hope he writes more music like that.  He writes great action cues and other exciting fun cues.  Transformation was a great track as well, but if you’re interested in hearing a sample of what the score is like, the Credits Suite is just fine.  Powell’s music is fun and his style always fits nicely with the film.


Enjoy the Ride
Gribble’s Loss
Mars Needs Moms Credits Suite

Oh, and don’t listen to Martian Mambo, one of the most irritating tracks on a score release in a while.  It’s so irritating that I’m sure the few kids that saw Mars Needs Moms wouldn’t even like it.  


Music composed by John Powell

Orchestrated by: John Ashton Thomas, Dave Metzger, Rick Giovinazzo, Andrew Kinney, Randy Kerber,
Germaine Franco, Jon Kull, Ben Wallfisch
Additional music by: Paul Mounsey, Dominic Lewis, Carlinhos Brown, Mikael Mutti
Conducted by: Pete Anthony
Album time: 47 minutes
Available on Varese Sarabande

It is hard to be surprised that another 3D animated movie came out and John Powell wrote the score.  This time, Blue Sky Studios made the film.  Powell worked for them previously on Robots (2005), Ice Age 2 (2006), Horton Hears a Who (2008) and Ice Age 3 (2009). 
I enjoy the Brazilian flavor added to the score.  Many tracks reminded me of Michael Giacchino’s score to Ratatouille, though this score didn’t sound like retreaded Powell music.  The closest comparison I would make is to bits and pieces of Chicken Run.  The orchestrators deserve some credit giving the score the Brazilian flavor, using more unique instruments (guitars, lots of Latin percussion and whistling).  After a while all the tracks started sounding the same.  Powell did incorporate the song Real in Rio and a few other songs (found on song album) into many of the parts of the score, which worked nicely.  The bass clarinet gives the “villain” theme its sense of danger, and there luckily isn’t an overly sappy love theme.  Through the score, we get a quiet statement of a Powell-esque theme.  It comes to full orchestra in Rio Airport.  Flying is a great track, as customary that Powell’s scores always end really well.  Overall, this score is fun and the orchestrations are lively.  The melodies aren’t quite his best, but that doesn’t hurt the score. 

Morning Routine
Umbrellas of Rio
Rio Airport

And for those wanting to hear the songs in the movie, there’s a soundtrack album for you. 

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  1. That last track on Mars is atrocious. Other than that, really like it. Rio is good too, but not really my style. Definitely some Ratatouille-isms.