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Mars Attacks!

  • 1996
  • PG-13
  • 106min
  • 52%
  • 6.3 / 10

After a fleet of Martian spacecraft arrive on earth and take every major city in the world as their hostage, the President of the United States and a science professor attempt to have a diplomatic talk with the extraterrestrial visitors. This proves to be disastrous thus forcing the military to call for a full-scale nuclear retaliation.

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movie facts

Despite its ever-growing fanbase, Mars Attacks! was not a box office success nor receive praises from film critics; it was not nominated by any major award-winning bodies, namely the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAS. It did, however, get nominated by The Saturn Awards – created to award outstanding accomplishments in science-fiction, horror, and fantasy. Its nominations include Best Science-Fiction Film, Best Director, and Best Special Effects. It was also nominated by the Art Directors Guild for Excellence in Production Design, and the Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Mars Attacks! movie review

Mars Attacks! is, at its core, like Hollywood's disaster movies. However, the tone, approach, and execution in which Tim Burton chooses for the film are different. Only Burton could ever be trusted with a big budget and procure a satire so farcical, surreal, and cynical that its cheesiness is clearly intentional.

The film is much closer to Burton's approach in Beetlejuice than his two mega blockbusters - Batman and Batman Returns. The result is an astonishing yet infuriatingly wasteful lumbering vision that can only be done by Burton. While it doesn't always pay off in the film, the overall effect is delirious and chaotic.

It is a satire of 50s science fiction with its flying saucers, big-brained aliens and their plot of global annihilation partnered with the cynicism of the 90s. The story - as one would expect - is secondary. What is primary is the effects, as exploited by Burton to create CGI invaders that are green, bulbous-brained and skull bearing pests who annihilate those that get in their way.

Viewers can expect a slow opening thirty minutes wherein the characters concede to the Martians. It is immediately sped up when the Martians arrive in Las Vegas. They greet the welcoming committee with a peaceful declaration only to whip out their lasers and incinerate everyone around them. It is a thrilling, horrifying, and humorous scene that sets the rest of the film's tone.

The attacks become global, but the military's efforts prove to be futile. It is up to a heroic group of diverse individuals to save mankind. Their method is hokey, but a lot more fun.

In the end, Mars Attacks! is a visual trip that is humorous and cinematic. Burton, like the Martians, revels in the destruction he unleashed. Underneath the massacre of Congress and the defiling of Easter Island, is a comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously and neither should those that choose to watch it.


about the movie

Mars Attacks! (1996) is a satirical American science fiction film based on the 1962 Topps trading card that depicted Earth’s invasion by nefarious big-brained Martians. Vice calls the film, “pop culture's marginalia exacting revenge upon American civilization and the pretensions of the disaster movie. The Martians represent the campiness and superficiality that is always present underneath the solemnity of movies like Independence Day and The Towering Inferno.” Director and creator, Tim Burton, chose Hollywood’s elite to star in the film in order to parallel a strategy other directors use when creating a disaster film; the ensemble cast is led by Jack Nicholson as both President James Dale and Art Land. Barbara Land Other actors include Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Jack Black, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Pam Grier, Ray J, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Joe Don Baker, Lisa Marie Smith, Brandon Hammond and Sylvia Sidney.