Movie Review: Mars Attacks!

Title: Mars Attacks!
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Sci-fi, Comedy
Release Date: December 13, 1996  (Seen January 1,2022)
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Glen Close, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Annette Benning, Martin Short, Danny DeVito, Natalie Portman, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas and many many more.

There are times I actually forget that not all Tim Burton films are animations. This film is live action and full of Alist stars (although a few I suppose were not A list at the time). Its a parody based on a deck of cards, so as you can imagine is purposefully bad, but in a way that is hilarious and works for what the film is trying to do.

Part of the hilarity I guess is the list of great actors doing a silly movie. Some of them were major names already, such as Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan and Glen Close. Sarah Jessica Parker also had a long career at this point, though she was two years away from her most known piece- Sex & The City. It was kind of hiliarious that to this day I see Martin Short and still say “Oh, look Franck.” He definately isn’t our beloved wedding planner in this film, instead the sleesy Press Secretary who is a quite willing (at first) victim of Alien Babe.

Danny Devito hardly appears in the film, despite his top billing. Michael J. Fox may be one of the few characters played straight rather then outright caricature. Steve Valentine also appears in this as the TV director which was a surprise. I loved him on Crossing Jordan (no one else knew who he was in the room when I watched this, this is why Crossing Jordan should hurry up and be on some sort of media, be it DVD, Blu-ray or Stream).

This movie is filled with apperances by actors who became bigger names later, such as Jack Black and Natalie Portman. Her next film was going to be Star Wars, so her fame was about to skyrocket. Jack Black would take his career upwords in the following years, with High Fidelity (Good movie, go watch) and the Tenacious D projects.

The storyline is simple. It is found that there is life on Mars. The Martians come to visit, and then decide to take over the planet. This movie spoofs a bit on late 60s monster movies involving aliens. In fact, despite it taking place in the timeframe it was being filmed, it gives off a 1960s feel to it. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think its a movie to watch if you want to think deeply about something. Its not a thriller, or a drama. Its definately a comedy, and its purpose is to make a little fun of those films from an earlier age. Which are also not made to take seriously. There are some interesting choices made in the story which I had to laugh at because realistically I do not think they could be done. But that is the fun of this movie. Pretty much nothing is to be taken seriously.

So I’m going to give it a B. Its a good film to watch once, and as a group film. However, I’m unlikely to want to keep it in my personal collection or rewatch it on my own. But I think its generally enjoyable and if you get to watch it, feel free to do so and not change the channel.

Cover Image from Wikipedia Commons.

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