DreamMachineTeen Movie Critic - V is a Dream Machine Site
The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web
Teen Movie Critic - V

Mars Attacks!


Jeff Nelson

Mars Attacks! is sure to get mixed opinions, but I find it to be an amusing throwback that was better than I remember it being.

Mars Attacks!
Buy this poster at
Tim Burton is a huge name in the movie business who knows what it takes to make an entertaining film. Quite a few of his motion pictures are known to be something different. His more recent productions carry a bit of a darker tone. Burton usually brings humor to each of his projects. However, his films have been hit and miss with audiences. In 1996 he released the B-movie throwback known as Mars Attacks! with a crowded cast. This film features a big group of well-known actors. Many of the bad movies from Hollywood generally come off as tacky. Many independent productions intentionally create the B-movie tone and pokes fun at itself. The cast and crew don't take the script too seriously, which makes it a lot of fun for the viewers. Did Hollywood create a worthy throwback or does it simply fall on its face?<{> Bulbous-headed Martians come to Earth hell-bent on world domination and destroying everyone and everything in the way. Can the president save the planet from the invaders. The title sums up the plot. Everything from the name of the movie to the script is complete B-movie material. The screenplay doesn't take itself seriously and purposefully makes fun of itself. Those who dislike the science fiction genre will want to avoid this like the plague. I'm not a big fan of the genre, but Mars Attacks! injects comedy into the mix. However, the humor requires a certain taste to appreciate it. As expected, the characters are hollow as can be. The dialogue is intentionally very campy. There are ridiculous subplots that are stretched too far. The film would have been better if it focused only on the invasion instead of giving the subplots screen time. The ending is extremely predictable. The final 10 minutes or so definitely felt rushed and half-hearted.

Surprisingly, Mars Attacks! has an explosive cast. The actors appearing in Mars Attacks! are Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnon, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Natalie Portman, and more. Tim Burton had a fantastic cast to work with, but never used them to its full potential. Jack Nicholson clearly shines above the rest as the president. He surely delivers the best laughs. None of the performances are bad, but Academy Award winners aren't required for a movie such as this. Don't expect to see the work of these actors to be their best.

Similar to some of his past work, Tim Burton used stop motion animation for the Martians. He purposefully made the visuals poor. If the FX were phenomenal, it wouldn't capture the tone of the B-movie. These flicks are generally made on a shoe-string budget. The final production budget was $80 million. The Martians, explosions, and UFOs intentionally look tacky. Tim Burton definitely captured the cheesy tone of the old B-movies. This could be seen as a bad thing by some audiences, but I found it to make the movie that much more fun. The audio is primarily a front stage presentation. The surrounds aren't used as often as they could have been. The subwoofer only shows its presence during some explosions and the score. Mars Attacks! is by no means a reference track, but it's a bit of a letdown.

I remember seeing Mars Attacks! when I was quite a bit younger. I wasn't too fond of the film. However, I gave it another shot all these years later and found myself enjoying it a bit more. It will never be a masterpiece to me, but it's a fun B-movie throwback. The humor isn't for all moviegoers. While some audiences will find it hilarious, others will think that it's just stupid. Don't expect this to be a brilliant piece of cinema. I definitely recommend this to fans of older B-movies. Mars Attacks! is sure to get mixed opinions, but I find it to be an amusing throwback that was better than I remember it being.

My Rating = Three Stars

Next movie: The Ward
Gypsy's Photo Gallery


...the best independent ISP in the Twin Cities

To write us about this page,
contact willy@dreamagic.com (Willy Chaplin)