© 1996 Warner Bros.

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Mars Attacks! is another Tim Burton film along with Planet of the Apes, that got a pretty mixed reviews from both critics and fans. I watched it once before a few years ago and didn’t care for it all that much. But since I have been going through all of Tim Burton’s films, I decided to give it another try.

Although the CGI flying saucers and and Martians already look rather dated less than 15 years later, this is a really fun movie with a few good performances from an ensemble cast. The cast has so many name actors that it probably suffers a bit from being too large, so the performers have very little time to do anything on the screen. Sarah Jessica Parker, of whom I am no fan, is quite funny as a TV fashion show host who suddenly finds herself covering intergalactic invasions.  Even the usually nauseating Joe Don Baker is good as the trailer trash dad of two boys, one a dim-witted army boy who dies in battle (Jack Black) and another who saves the world (Lukas Hass). Jack Nicolson is great as the US president, but his second role as a good ol’ boy casino developer wears thin pretty quick.

Tim Burton rolls out his usual obsessions with ‘50s Americana, but here it actually works. But, really, who couldn’t love a movie in which Tom Jones takes a break from his Vegas show to lead the world into the dawn of a new, post-Martian civilization?

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“It upsets you, doesn't it? The puppet master ran across a puppet who won't perform and then cuts all his strings. She's become a symbol of hope to all of us who sold out for that touch of mink.”
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from That Touch of Mink