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'Mars Needs Moms' goes for a photo-realistic look

Disney's upcoming animated kids' film looks a little uncanny. And not, perhaps, in a good way.

The animated style departs from Disney's traditional approach. "Mars Needs Moms" has a distinctively smooth and almost photo-realistic look, not the cartoony look of "Tangled" or a Pixar film like "Toy Story." Chalk it up to producer Robert Zemeckis, whose near-obsession with motion-capture techniques gave us "A Christmas Carol" and "The Polar Express."

This seems like a gamble. Both films were critical failures, although they performed respectably at the box office. In both instances, the motion-capture was the problem. Though fluid and detailed, the animation lacked warmth, especially in the case of "The Polar Express," which became famous as an example of the "deadeye" problem that still occasionally plagues computer-animated films.

Generally speaking, motion-capture still falls into what's known as the "uncanny valley." That's a term originally used in the robotics field that describes the revulsion we feel when we see a creature that is almost, but not quite, human.

In other words, we enjoy seeing a talking animal like Donald Duck, who acts somewhat human but is clearly not. And we enjoy seeing actual humans. What we don't enjoy are the creatures that fall in between. Examples would be a flesh-faced robot or perhaps a zombie. Or, a computer-animated "person."

How uncanny will "Mars Needs Moms" be? Decide for yourself:

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