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Overall Rating
2.96

Awesome: 22.13%
Worth A Look: 22.13%
Average: 9.84%
Pretty Bad: 21.31%
Total Crap24.59%

4 reviews, 98 user ratings


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Mars Attacks!
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by Rob Gonsalves

"This one gets better with repeat viewings."
4 stars

The first third of 'Mars Attacks!' moves like molasses uphill in January. Major stars show up, mostly playing broad caricatures, and the audience chuckles politely, like the studio audience during a bad 'Saturday Night Live' sketch. My heart sank as I thought "Oh, no -- this is really sucking."

But stick with it. Mars Attacks! has a very slow fuse, but once it goes off, director Tim Burton hits his stride. The Martians land, and you can hear Burton cackling "Welcome to Earth -- now go kill everybody!"

Mars Attacks! has been called both a spoof of 1996's bloated sack Independence Day and an affectionate homage to the cheerful sci-fi of the '50s; it's worth noting that Burton's previous film was Ed Wood, about the notoriously inept director of Plan 9 from Outer Space (whose hubcap UFOs are spoofed here). More than anything, though, it's a comedy of destruction -- Tim Burton's version of Steven Spielberg's 1941.

There really is no plot. The ramshackle script (by Jonathan Gems) sets up a dozen characters, ranging from the President (Jack Nicholson) to a clerk at a donut shop (Lukas Haas), who are all defined in terms of their response to the Martian visitors. Burton assembles an all-star cast and then blithely kills off half of them. Up yours, Hollywood! At times, the movie plays like a successful director's revenge on the studio moguls who want him to deliver another Batman.

The Martians, designed to duplicate the invaders in Topps' Mars Attacks! trading cards of the '60s, are like E.T. redrawn by Bart Simpson. Their heads are grinning skulls topped by big, squishy brains; to be blunt, their heads look like testicles. It's fitting that we almost get wiped out by the only species more warlike and testosterone-brained than we are, and Burton is at his funniest when the Martians are zapping away like brats playing a video game.

He's at his worst with the human actors. Burton has never known what to do with everyday people (see Kim Basinger in Batman); here, he encourages everyone to ham it up. Nicholson is relatively restrained as the President, but he also plays another role, an oily Vegas land developer, and goes way over the top in a fake nose that makes him look like Sonny Bono. Actors like Danny DeVito, Rod Steiger, and Glenn Close (as the First Lady) seem too aware that they're doing this as a goof.

Pierce Brosnan comes through. Playing some bleeding-heart egghead who believes we can learn from the Martians (think Robert Cornthwaite in 1951's The Thing), he acts with perfect pipe-puffing seriousness and gets his laughs effortlessly. Brosnan also has Burton's best funny-surreal moments when he's a disembodied head making goo-goo eyes at Sarah Jessica Parker, whose own head has been grafted onto .... Never mind.

Such moments make you forgive whatever's wrong with the movie. 'Mars Attacks!' isn't the psychotic cartoon many of us hoped for; the first third is dead. But the last two-thirds are very much alive, and very much Tim Burton. It's as if he'd started making 'Independence Day' and then burned it to the ground.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=651&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/15/07 15:31:07
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User Comments

10/19/13 Rod Has its flaws but it's still a lot of fun! 4 stars
5/04/10 PAUL SHORTT FUN SCI-FI SATIRE 3 stars
8/28/09 Kong's hairy oxters How can one take this seriously when the author can't even spell the plural of "cameo"? 5 stars
8/22/09 Jeff Wilder Funny to watch ONE time. But doesn't hold up to repeated viewings. 3 stars
8/12/08 Shaun Wallner Funny Flick!! 5 stars
3/27/08 kera The Martian Leader and the troopers were the best!!! 5 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Making references to '50's sci-fi does not=creativity.Tim Burton needs some original ideas. 1 stars
5/17/07 Dave I think I'll stick with Independance Day 1 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Lazer-blast, non-stop laughs all the way. 4 stars
1/28/07 mets1986 One of Burton's best... 5 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist Reshoot in black&white, perhaps it would have worked.Strictly a cult classic wannabe 1 stars
8/02/06 dan simply lol 5 stars
6/22/06 TB It was the funniest movie 5 stars
6/11/06 Dave Webber Great retro fun!!! 5 stars
2/03/06 Anthony Feor It gets 2 stars because Peirce is in it 2 stars
12/22/05 cody a cheesy 5o's flick, with poor acting, silly plot, but corny fun! 2 stars
8/14/05 sbpat21 underrated, Tim Burton does it again! 4 stars
8/13/05 ES This was a film made in the style of old badly made 50's movie ith updated effects= great 4 stars
8/06/05 Zack Hilarious, brilliant film! 5 stars
6/14/05 Indrid Cold Tim, if you spent $ on the writing instead of just the FX, this might have been good. 2 stars
2/06/05 Jeff Anderson Tim Burton's passionate & elaborate ode to 50's sci-fi. Danny Elfman's score is AWESOME!!!! 5 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams it's a SATIRE, people 5 stars
11/19/04 screb so lame but there at least one bellylaugh 2 stars
10/26/04 John afger 5 minutes the movie is already in deep trouble and it just gets worse 1 stars
9/25/04 Lord Durvok 2 K-Dog is a loud-mouth simpleton. This was still a fun little movie, though. 4 stars
9/03/04 T.B. Funny Martians and Silly Cast 4 stars
8/20/04 DM Simply not funny 1 stars
8/06/04 Anthony G Horse shit 1 stars
6/02/04 Sean Scanlan Worst movie 1 stars
5/09/04 Sean Scanlan Ugly, and dumb 1 stars
4/23/04 Gray could have been better 3 stars
4/08/04 polX Very funny. It is supposed to look the way it does. 5 stars
2/11/04 Jingo P. A MASSIVELY missed opportunity, but it could be worse.... 3 stars
2/10/04 Whatevr If only there was a rating that was worse than 1... 1 stars
1/16/04 Ubu the Ripper Only worth watching for brief glimpses of lovely Natalie Portman. Other than that, it blows 1 stars
9/23/03 Alan Have you people no sense of humor. As with any Tim Burton film, it is just plain fun. 4 stars
9/01/03 francis not funny, not scary, not exciting, not anything 2 stars
8/15/03 Okeanos Pointless 2 stars
6/08/03 earl hoffert very very flawed but still funnier than anything anyone else makes 4 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon It's a spoof of disaster flicks, primarily "Ind. Day," you ignoramuses. AWESOME. 5 stars
5/08/03 Shadaan Felfeli The big names do soften the blow. 3 stars
4/15/03 The Big See Just like "Independence Day", only WORSE! And that is really something! 1 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Atrocious and simply unbearable to sit through. 1 stars
1/31/03 ryan andrews this movie sucks my ass hole you bitches 1 stars
1/09/03 R.W. Welch Goofy. 2 stars
11/20/02 meatpopsicle classic stupid comedy 5 stars
10/16/02 Charles Tatum The cast should sell their Oscars and pay the audience back 1 stars
10/08/02 Kitfo brilliant pastiche of 50s sci-fi, marred only by Jack Nicholson 4 stars
8/29/02 dada I laughed. Quite a lot. 5 stars
6/06/02 Melissa in NYC Uber-funny! 5 stars
4/24/02 Danielle Ophelia It's Burton and therefore gorgeous and fascinating, but ultimately pointless. 3 stars
2/26/02 Butterbean I understand that this movie was going for 50's camp, but it just didn't work out. 2 stars
12/01/01 Scottish Kilt The worst and wierdest movie of our time, wasnt even funny. 1 stars
9/09/01 hilary Total Crap 1 stars
9/06/01 Gary Really needed a sharper script. A great cast with not enough to do. Too many characters. 2 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk I think I get what Burton was going for...but it still wasn't very enjoyable. A let-down. 2 stars
8/03/01 KC Au So-so. Best line "I'll tell you one thing : they ain't gettin' the TV!!" 3 stars
8/03/01 the scarecrow I love Tim Burton but this was not his best movie. 3 stars
7/28/01 Steve Repetative, predictable, what a waste of a cast! Couple laughs, but pretty lame. 2 stars
7/15/01 officer 412/l why dont more people like this movie i love it. most people never got it 5 stars
7/01/01 Rampage boring and pathetic 1 stars
5/21/01 Ray McCoy Burton's worst film, uggh 2 stars
5/18/01 Bada Bing Crosby Tim Burton's '1941'; nice to see the legendary Tom Jones in a movie , though 1 stars
4/09/01 Gary This is the dumbest movie since Mars Attacks! lol 1 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye Would have been great, if only it had a plot. 2 stars
2/26/01 The Bomb 69 good campy stuff, some of it over the top but I believe that was intended 4 stars
1/30/01 Tami Middleton I was actually embarrassed walking out of the theater. What a waste of money! 1 stars
12/27/00 Turtle How did they get a bunch of super stars into a super crap film? 2 stars
11/29/00 The Evil Penguin One of Burton's worst films. Sorry. 3 stars
11/27/00 Tim Burton I admit it, it's my worst movie to date. 2 stars
9/12/00 Jed Has its potential & moments but overall it is a terrible tim burton blunder. 2 stars
9/10/00 doktor eric one of the all time great and defining movies! 5 stars
8/23/00 K-Dog Killer As usual K-Dog has the opposite opinion to everyone else. What a dick head. Shit film 2 stars
6/27/00 dan Jack Nicholson Is the President of the United States 4 stars
6/15/00 Bender Nicey goofy spoof of crappy Si-Fi movies 4 stars
6/10/00 Mike Farwell Haliarous 4 stars
5/15/00 seldom scene now i see why it flopped at the box office:this is a spoof of a spoof. 2 stars
5/03/00 That Guy Completely unfunny. Every actor is wasted in this movie. I'd rather knit. 1 stars
3/19/00 David Rogers It wasn't funny, but there's something else about it that makes me like it. 4 stars
2/25/00 Bozo I love a large & varied cast & this has that in spades, but not much else for me to enjoy 3 stars
11/24/99 the Grinch "It's the universal symbol for DONUT! Funny, but didn't reach potential. I love tom jones. 4 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan Go and see 'Plan 9 from Outer Space' instead, it's funnier. 1 stars
9/28/99 Lloyd Walters Irony is lost on Americans 5 stars
9/19/99 Aaron White Recommended for absurdists and Chuck Jones fans... a bitter pill wrapped in bold cartooning 5 stars
8/23/99 Physh Tim Burton makes em the way they should! Good, not excelent. 4 stars
8/11/99 Japtalian I can't believe the people who didn't like this movie. Y'all suck ass!! 5 stars
7/30/99 Matthew Bartley Very funny,good design...and Natalie Portman 4 stars
7/01/99 Elizaveta I LOVE Jack Nicholson's death! 4 stars
4/24/99 lucas jackson fuck,this movie was funny,it was not suppose to be serious 4 stars
12/01/98 Mr.Pink "Don't run away, we're your friends!" 5 stars
11/16/98 Lord Of The Dunce A sincerely sucky big name big budget big waste of my time. 1 stars
10/22/98 Johny It is what it's meant to be, but it isn't great 3 stars
10/15/98 MR HOLLYWOOD !! A harmless comedy,some memorable scenes and FX though silly to the max,aliens talk is cool! 4 stars
10/01/98 katherine I liked it because of the spacey sort of storyline, but some of it was so dumb!!! 3 stars
9/26/98 Maegs but dammit, the alien speak was funny. And EVERYBODY died--a good plus 2 stars
9/23/98 Jason Rosenbaum I've seen it twice. It's hilarious. 4 stars
8/29/98 Matt I like this movie more than most people I meet, and i still wish i hadn't paid for it 2 stars
8/25/98 Mister Whoopee Cameos for the sake of another name on the poster. Why was De Vito in it? Pointless. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Dec-1996 (PG-13)

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