Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Movie Review: "Mars Attacks!" (1996)

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Movie"Mars Attacks!"
Director: Tim Burton
Year: 1996
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Invaders from the planet Mars come to earth and start an all out assault on the human race.

"Mars Attacks!" is a sci-fi action comedy directed by Tim Burton and is based on a Topps trading card series. It stars an amazing ensemble cast including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Natalie Portman, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, Annette Bening, Lukas Haas, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Jack Black, Danny DeVito, and Sylvia Sidney, just to name a few. Jack Nicholson pulls double duty as the President of the United States and as a sleazy casino owner. We absolutely love his portrayal of the POTUS. His "why can't we all just get along?" speech is fantastic and fitting, but we feel like he doesn't work all that well in his secondary sleazy casino owner character. Having him play both roles seems a little unnecessary, and it would have been less distracting to pay someone else to fill the second part. In fact, there are a lot of characters who seem superfluous and are just there to flesh out a giant cast like the ones seen in modern sci-fi epics like "Independence Day." That being said, the cast is not a complete and total loss. Most of the acting is good, but is often executed in a cheesy manner by many of the actors, most notably Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan, though we feel this is intentional to give it that borderline awful B-movie feel.

Martians have recently invaded earth and begin to go on a killing spree, even when everyone on earth believes they are friendly. This film seems to draw a lot of inspiration/is a bit of a spoof of the old science fiction B-movies, with a little bit of an "Ed Wood" vibe thrown in for good measure. "Mars Attacks!" uses a mix of CGI and practical effects to create the martians and their ships, as well as the thousands of dead bodies littering the streets of the United States once their invasion begins. At the time of this film's release, the CGI looked pretty good, but now many years later, it does feel quite dated and more cartoony than serious, but again, this may be intentional. It doesn't really detract from our enjoyment of this silly but fun film, but it is something we noticed when watching it many years later. The martian creatures themselves are fantastic and manage to garner a lot of laughs, despite being CGI characters that only say "ak ak ak ak ak...AK AK!." They achieve these laughs mainly through visual gags and ironic situational humor.

"Mars Attacks!" is a mostly solid film that is fun to watch despite feeling a bit dated. The acting won't be memorable because of its obviously cheesy feel, and the animation might be silly now, but we always feel like we laugh a lot when we watch this movie, even if it doesn't feel like the funniest thing ever made. Part of us wonders if politicians would really act the way they do in this movie if martians were to invade earth...and part us knows it's probably true. Tim Burton does a good job as the director of this movie, though you might not necessarily associate the project with him at first.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 52%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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