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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12
Cast
Jack Nicholson
Glenn Close
Annette Bening
Pierce Brosnan
Danny DeVito.
Directors
Tim Burton.
Screenwriters
Jonathan Gems.
Running Time
106 minutes

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Mars Attacks
Burton shows he really is from another planet with this sardonical satire.


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Plot
The Earth is invaded by Martians with irresistible weapons and a cruel sense of humour


Review
If you were expecting another Independence Day, forget it. For while the story (Earth besieged by space invaders intent on wiping out mankind) is similar, the tone, approach and execution couldn't be any more different. Only a director with the clout that Tim Burton wields could be entrusted with $70 million and deliver a movie so distinctly personal on such an enormous scale; a giddily madcap, surreal, sardonic satire that sets out to be deliberately cheesy.

Closer in its scattergun approach to Beetlejuice than his two blockbusting Batmans, this is by turns inspired, lumbering, visionary, infuriatingly wasteful and truly astonishing, so while it certainly doesn't always work, the overall effect is one of delirious mayhem, Burton-style.

Burton and British screenwriter Jonathan Gems (with uncredited assistance from Ed Wood writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski) have crafted a loving parody of 50s science fiction cinema, with its creaky flying saucers, bug-eyed aliens, and global annihilation, by way of cynical 90s sensibilities. The story, as you'd probably expect, is secondary to the effects. But what effects, as Burton fully exploits his CGI invaders; green, bulbous-brained, skull-visaged little buggers gleefully out for a bit of interplanetary argy bargy.

After a very slow first 30 minutes in which the film threatens to keel over and die, the action kicks into hyperdrive when the Martians land in the Nevada desert and, with a "We come in peace" declaration, whip out their laserguns and incinerate the gathered masses. It's a thrilling scene, both horrifying and humorous, which aptly sets the tone for what follows.

As the attack turns global, the military proves ineffectual, and it takes the efforts of a heroic band of disparate individuals to save mankind as we know it. And while the method with which they defeat the Martians is no less hokey than ID4's, it's certainly a lot more fun. The heavyweight cast (Nicholson in dual roles as US President and a sleazy Vegas tycoon, Close as the First Lady, Pierce Brosnan as a pipe-smoking scientist, Bening as the latter's clippie-hippie wife, Michael J. Fox and Sarah Jessica Parker as rival TV reporters, Tom Jones as himself) pitch themselves firmly in the camp marked, well, "camp", and act up for all they're worth, but are ultimately undone by the too slight script.


Verdict
This is a Tim Burton film after all, a visual feast, both comedic and cinematic, he, like his invaders, is revelling in the planetary destruction he's unleashed, witness the massacre of Congress or the Martians defiling the Easter Island statues. And only in a Tim Burton film could two disembodied heads profess their love for one another.


Reviewed by Mark Salisbury

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Mars Attacks
Empire Star Rating

Mars Attacks! Review

Tim Burton's alien invasion spoof faithfully recreates the wooden characters and schlocky story of cheesy '50s sci-fi and Ed Wood movies, perhaps a little too faithfully for some audiences but still it's entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 13:08, 11 May 2012 | Report This Post


Mars Attacks! Review

Tim Burton's alien invasion spoof faithfully recreates the wooden characters and schlocky story of cheesy '50s sci-fi and Ed Wood movies, perhaps a little too faithfully for some audiences but still it's entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 13:08, 11 May 2012 | Report This Post


In a word Tremendous - from my favourite director

Don't like it? Get a life ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by monkeyhumour at 10:43, 17 July 2010 | Report This Post


re...

not quite my sense of humor, but all in all it was ok..  ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kapa at 07:52, 26 July 2009 | Report This Post


Mars Attacks

With age people often change their minds about films (when I was much younger I thought Batman and Robin was brilliant! - I know it’s shameful) however this is a film I enjoyed the first time round and still do to this day. Yes it is corny in parts and yes it is very camp but the way Burton pays homage whilst parodying the classic Sci-Fi films of old is superb. The CGI still can hold its own in areas, even today. The characters are as flamboyant and colourful as the settings of Las Vegas. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JJB888 at 16:45, 09 July 2009 | Report This Post


Tim Burton is a god...

One of burton's best in my opinion. Whoever says its crap obviously doesnt like any of the 1950s science fiction B movies that its greatly and honourably paying homage to. And its a fun, entertaining and very funny movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MartyW at 13:23, 07 July 2009 | Report This Post


legendary, one of burtons bests ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tango fett at 18:40, 06 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE:

L: wooz Too much a mess to be fun. Had it revolved around the dim but nice donut boy, perhaps this could have been a coherent and entertaining sci-fi parody. As it stands, it's a meandering behemoth of fun buried under 15 tonnes of confusion. sp; ...aaaawwwww come on! It's fucking top! ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 13:18, 22 December 2007 | Report This Post


Too much a mess to be fun. Had it revolved around the dim but nice donut boy, perhaps this could have been a coherent and entertaining sci-fi parody. As it stands, it's a meandering behemoth of fun buried under 15 tonnes of confusion. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wooz at 01:16, 22 December 2007 | Report This Post


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