Mars Attacks (Review)

Aaaah Photoshop. Is there anything you can’t do?

Mars Attacks sounds terrific on paper. A tongue in cheek alien attack film featuring a mega-cast of the past, present and futurely famous. Unfortunately most of them far better actors than this material deserves…

When the aliens – *AHEM* Martian-Americans – arrive, it is assumed that they must be intelligent beings who seek to share knowledge, and the President of the USA (Jack Nicholson) delightedly informs his nation of the breakthrough in inter-species relations.

The fact that the Martians are 3 ½ foot tall and look like a skull with a massive exposed brain enclosed in a clear dome isn’t at all offputting.

The fact that they converse in a loud obnoxious “ACK. ACK. ACK.” doesn’t bother anyone.

The fact that they kill the US Army General sent to formally welcome them, then lay waste to hundreds of onlookers desperate to be part of first contact is written off as a misunderstanding.

Once the Martians take out an entire body of government, then set to eradicating the entire population, that fact becomes a little harder to swallow.

But none of that should surprise the viewer of course, after all it is called ‘Mars Attacks’, not ‘Mars drops in to say Hi’.

The actual plotline is essentially irrelevant, which is why it matter not one iota that they gave it away in the title.

What is supposed to matter is that Tim Burton has amassed a cadre of talent to act dumbfounded, outraged and perturbed at appropriate times in a film inspired by a set of bubblegum cards.

Burton gleefully ignores standard cinema protocol and builds hero moments only to have the hero killed at the exact wrong point. He sets up scenes where love is about to find a way – then chuckles to himself when it doesn’t.

The film plays no favourites and obeys no conventions, the President of the US is no safer than singer Tom Jones, being Jack Nicholson doesn’t make you any different from being Jack Black (in one of his first films – he’s almost skinny here!).

Meanwhile the Martians poke, prod and test their human captives, again with allegedly hilarious results, but might I say that Sarah Jessica Parker actually looks new and improved sporting a dog’s head?

My main gripe is this: I know that this is all delightfully silly and deliberately juvenile stuff, but that doesn’t make it entertaining or somehow more worthy of merit. The fact that Burton set out to make a dumb film shouldn’t be seen as a positive, if anything he should be flogged for wasting his considerable talents on this indulgent crap.

I know that many viewers with ‘mainstream’ tastes see Mars Attacks as acceptable as they want to embrace and enjoy something silly, and feel they can only do so if said film is made by a man universally acknowledged as an ‘eccentric genius’.

I also know that many cinema aficionados and Burton acolytes see Mars Attacks as Tim Burton thumbing his nose to those same mainstream lemmings.

But know this. Regardless of who made Mars Attacks, who starred in it and why it was made; it is a laugh free, amateurish snoozefest, with a severe docking in score for the persistent stream of trite and misguided jokes and alleged sightgags and less entertainment value than a Saturday morning cartoon.

If Tim Burton wants to be all ironic and indulgent, let him do it on his own time. On behalf of Earth, I apologise to any extra-terrestrial beings who think we humans see this as ‘entertainment’.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. I dislike Mars Attacks more for what it is supposed to be than what it is. But with the cast, the budget and the talent behind the scenes, this should have been so much more than a childish and plain stupid vanity project.

I’d rather watch Battle:Los Angeles5 times in a row – with the sound way up – than sit through this again.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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One Response to Mars Attacks (Review)

  1. Artie B. says:

    Thank You for a real good revue of this so-called movie. I’ve seen plenty of them since 1996. Most give an averager it’s O.K. revue.
    I’m an original fan of Mars Attacks Bubblegum Trading Cards since 1962 when I was 9 years old & bought my frist pack of the TOPPS’ Cards.
    I have a website that has been running since 1999. Named, “Mars Attacks Trading Cards Central”. It deals with only the trading cards. Not the dumb movie. It is now the No. 1 Mars Attacks site in the web.
    I could not wait for this movie to come out. The original MA Poster on the web was a guy named Bernie Mertos (sp.). He posted all the upcoming dailies in 1995, of this when it was being filmed around the country. It was sounding better as it was progressing.
    I went with my Wife to see this at a premier on Fryday the 13th as it came ouyt. The opening Burrning Cattle scene into the introduction of the Cast and Credits w/ all the Saucers coming to Earth, was very cool. And then it went to shit! I hate the ACK shit. I hate Tim Burton ever since he made this as a comedy. He sucks to me as a director. He makes them in his own dememted way, Not thinking of fans in his subjects he directs.
    The reason Tim put an allstar cast in this, was that he liked the ’70’s movie, “The Towering Inferno.” He got the idea from the scene where Super star Robert Wagner just made love to some leading acttress and went over to the Elevator to go down and gets swollen up by flames and dies.
    He also ssaw a copy of “Independence Day”, and realized he had to much talk between stars and not enough action. Had to rewrite in more action and reshot certain scenes, making it go over budget!
    I will never support this movie…ever!

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