After “Ed Wood” earned critical acclaim and earned two Oscars, Tim Burton began development on his next project called, “Mars Attacks.” Based on a trading card series created by The Topps Company, Tim did some research on cheesy B Movies from The 1950’s he grew up watching as a kid most notably the works of Ed Wood. He hired a bunch of familiar faces to portray human characters interacting with the martians. Mars Attacks wasn’t the only movie with a similar movie. I’ll give you a hint, it’s directed by the guy who made “Stargate,” “The Day After Tomorrow” & “2012.”
Mars Attacks was released in 1996. (the exact same year Independence Day came out) It received mixed reviews from critics and failed to recoup its expenses at the box office. Although a divisive flop, Mars Attacks earned a cult following.
The reason why I wanted to look back at Mars Attacks, is because Warner Bros’ (WB for short) two upcoming productions “Tenet” & “Dune” will be out this year. Similar to Independence Day & Mars Attacks having a similar theme involving alien invasion, Tenet & Dune some things in common like an ensemble cast, high stakes narrative, a visionary director, expensive budget and a possible runtime over two and a half hours long.
Today’s review doesn’t contain no SPOILERS. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article.
Yay & Nay Elements
Yay: The Main Cast consisting of Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Short, Rod Steiger, Annette Bening, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, Danny DeVito, Jim Brown, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jack Black, (before his career catapulted) Natalie Portman, (one of my favorite actresses) Pam Grier, Christiana Applegate, Lukas Haas (some nobody) & Tom Jones all did a good job for their respective performances.
Tim Burton did an ok job directing the film.
Tim’s frequent collaborator Danny Elfman orchestrated music.
The Special Effects surprisingly hold up. At first, Tim wanted the martians to move in stop-motion as a tribute to low budget cheesy sci-fi films from The 50’s. He later changed his mind to let the effects team design the martians in computer animated form. I think the effects are fine, because this was intentional for Tim to pay tribute to B Movies. Especially Ed Wood’s filmography.
Cinematography didn’t seem to have any technical flaws.
Unlike Independence Day, Mars Attacks is a straight up parody not taking itself seriously. Humor contains elements of black comedy involving the martians destruction for hunger.
Besides cheesy movies from The 50’s. Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” served as an influence. There’s a scene with the president in The War Room.
Tom Jones performs “It’s Not Unusual.” Carlton’s favorite song from “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” coining the dance move, “The Carlton.” Tim used his music in “Edward Scissorhands.” Tom Jones guest starred on an episode of “Duck Dodgers” when Daffy Duck switched voices with him.
Jack Nicholson delivers an epic speech about martians and humans forming as one. He also said Rodney Kong’s infamous phrase, “Why can’t we all just get along?” This was back when The L.A. Riots occurred back in 1992, four years before Mars Attacks. I’m giving Jack Bonus Points for delivering a pulse pounding speech next to Bill Pullman’s epic speech from Independence Day.
In one scene, Godzilla is shown on TV. Sarah Jessica Parker’s husband Matthew Broderick starred in the worst Godzilla movie of all time. Hence the line, “That’s a lot of fish.” Thanks WB for properly revitalizing Godzilla on the big screen since 2014.
Every time I see the martians destroying anything in their way, it makes me want to play the upcoming remastered edition of “Destroy All Humans.”
In addition to portraying the president, Jack also portrays a businessman. His appearance reminded me of Hulk Hogan. This was back when Hulk Hogan formed the N.W.O.
Jack yells out one of the best shut ups in movie history. He deserves an Extra Point. I reenact his scene whenever an annoying character like Willie from “Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom” won’t stop complaining.
That one song near the end of the movie was also in “Dudley-Do-Right.” Sarah Jessica Parker later co-starred with Brendan Fraser.
Nay: Not actually a spoiler, some of the human characters are too dumb to realize the martians are hellbent to eradicate Earth.
A shot of The Twin Towers are shown. It can be uncomfortable to see the human characters running from their lives as the martians destroy landmarks. Keep in mind, this was six years before 9/11.
Ew! Seeing Sarah Jessica Parker head attached to a dog made me felt nauseous. Gotta Double Down this con that’ll haunt me for the rest of my life. Can you imagine if Kathy Griffin’s head attached to Scarlet Johansson’s body?
Without giving anything away, one of the humans somehow managed to survive from a dozen martians using hand-to-hand combat.
The Final Verdict: B-
All I can say is, Mars Attacks is just an average film. It’s not as worse than any of Tim Burton’s movies like “Planet Of The Apes 2001,” “Alice In Wonderland,” it’s sequel “Through The Looking Glass” and “Dumbo.” If you’re interested in seeing Mars Attacks, go ahead and give it a watch.