Mars Attacks! (1996)

The aliens are upon us, and they do not come in peace! After a fleet of warships are spotted on their approach to Earth, the world leaders prepare to welcome the intergalactic invaders from Mars, but are instead vaporized by their laser death rays! Who will save us when MARS ATTACKS? Tim Burton's irreverent black comedy combines the high camp of a Roger Corman production with Sam Raimi's particular brand of "splatstick" humor for an end result that is nothing short of hilarious! MARS ATTACKS features an all-star lineup that includes Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Annette Benning, Michael J. Fox, and many, many more playing ridiculous caricatures of our social and political figureheads. Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Rod Steiger stand out in particular as the two opposing heads of government. Nicholson plays the politically-correct President of the United States who overlooks the aliens' initial attacks as being a "cultural misunderstanding," while Steiger gives us a taste of DR. STRANGELOVE as General Decker, whose hand is always on the button as he anxiously awaits the authorization to deploy his nuclear deterrents.

The disgusting alien creatures were originally taken from a short-lived Mars Attacks trading card series from Topps, then ingeniously brought to life by Industrial Light & Magic based on work by Barry Purves' design team. Their grotesque features and sinister sense of humor ranks them as one of the most entertaining and memorable movie monsters in recent film. Where else can you find green, skull-headed aliens blasting humans into dust while shouting "Don't run! We are your friends!"? ILM's cartoony computerization of the creatures has allowed the effects to hold up over time. Few directors could have captured the 1950s Science Fiction feel with their tongue placed so firmly in cheek, but Tim Burton pulls this off smashingly. While it has divided critics and fans alike with its off-beat humor and general weirdness, MARS ATTACKS offers a strikingly different take on the Science Fiction / Comedy that is unlike anything else in the genre.

Rating: 9/10.

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  1. 'Mars Attacks'- a movie that needed an impartial Editor.

    I love Tim Burton. I just hate that his success has allowed him almost entirely-free reign over his productions. That sounds bad, I know.

    If one man does all of the work and controls everything, there is no real Editing. Yes, Orson Welles could do it, but look at others that have tried. Obviously, Ed Wood comes to mind.

    With a tighter script and run-time, the movie would be a camp classic. For me, it's too long, too self-indulgent and too aimless.

  2. i liked it, but it Burton is getting the way of himself...

  3. We go back about what, at least 3 years now Alec, and those are some of the most poignant points you have made. Direct and accurate to the point! I revel in the randomness, but I totally get the lack of outside input effecting the outcome.