Mixed or average reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 19
  2. Negative: 2 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Part homage and part demolition job, Mars Attacks! is perhaps the funniest piece of giddy schlock heartlessness ever committed to film.
  2. In its nothing's-quite-at-stake way, Mars Attacks! has Tim Burton's flaked-out spirit -- it makes you feel like a very knowing 8-year-old, seeing through the artifice yet believing in it at the same time.
  3. I'm not sure what it all means, but, as in Ed Wood, Burton's visual flair and affection for the characters make it fun.
  4. Reviewed by: Alison Macor
    A holiday film with no conscience whatsoever, Mars Attacks! will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it definitely will make you wonder about Earth's ability to defend itself in the face of higher life forms.
  5. A flashy nineties flick with a campy fifties feel -- it's playful, naive, clever, silly, often inventive, occasionally uneven and, compared to studio offerings to date, the best present under this year's cinematic tree.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    Perhaps they don't create quite enough deeply funny earthlings to go around, but a thoroughly meanspirited big-budget movie is always a treasurable rarity. And those little guys from far away are a hoot. [30 Dec 1996]
  7. Reviewed by: Staff (Non Credited)
    It may seem mean-spirited to complain that in the end Burton's spectacle is a bit hollow. But his genius has always resided in his ability to give depth and a curious, dark richness to the ephemeral fluff of his pop-culture memories -- this is all sparkly surface.
  8. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    What makes you giggle your way through much of the movie isn't the jokes--Jonathan Gems's script is surprisingly feeble, and Burton's comic timing is often flat-- but the sheer, oddball chutzpah of it all. [23 Dec 1996]
  9. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The picture is lacking in the uproarious humor that might well have ensued from the material, which instead inspires occasional laughs but, much more often, bemused fascination and wonderment at the bizarre imaginations and impressive skill of the filmmakers.
  10. 50
    Mars Attacks! has the look and feel of a schlocky 1950s science-fiction movie, and if it's not as bad as a Wood film, that's not a plus: A movie like this should be a lot better, or a lot worse.
  11. The result can be viewed as an uproarious satire of science fiction in the "Independence Day" mold, or as a rehash of "Gremlins" without the novelty of the original.
  12. This messy science fiction comedy blows most of its inspired moments because of its mean-spirited, deafening siege mentality, which turns rich promise into a tiresome parade of half-baked skits. Hilarity never seemed so tedious.
  13. Nicholson squeezes every wretched drop of buffoonery from this character, and it's distressing to watch him play an easy role for easy laughs.
  14. 50
    A stillborn affair that could have been -- and should have been -- a whole lot hipper and funnier. If you've seen the two- minute theatrical trailer, you've seen nearly everything that's worthwhile in the feature.
  15. Reviewed by: Scott Rosenberg
    It turns out to be more a throwaway piece of pop ephemera, like a '90s "Casino Royale," momentarily arresting and soon forgotten.
  16. Not as much fun as it should be. Few of its numerous actors make a lasting impression and Burton's heart and soul is not in the humor but (remember the "Batman Returns" backlash) in deadpan postmodern horrors, of which this film has a few.
  17. With the exception of Burton's jolting sight gags (I may never recover from the vision of Parker's head grafted on to the body of a chihuahua), the comedy is half-developed, pedestrian material. And the climactic battle between Earthlings and Martians is dull and overextended.
  18. Just a parade of scattershot gags, more often weird than funny an dmost often just flat. [13 Dec 1996, p.C5]
  19. 10
    It's stingy at heart. Burton, who collaborated with British screenwriter Jonathan Gems, brings nothing of "Edward Scissorhands's" magic or "Beetlejuice's" wacky fun to this sadly empty exercise. Aimlessly plotted and blandly written.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 84 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 18
  2. Negative: 6 out of 18
  1. DeanD.
    Mar 20, 2006
    A total waste of time. Jokes were few and far between, and seldom funny at all. Tack those onto a threadbare, incoherent plot, and you have a A total waste of time. Jokes were few and far between, and seldom funny at all. Tack those onto a threadbare, incoherent plot, and you have a recipe for disaster. Full Review »
  2. BobB.
    May 29, 2006
    Tim Burton made this? or was he just making an attempt at a modern Ed Wood film?
  3. Dee
    Feb 9, 2006
    No real plot. The movie was all over the board. The scenes made good actors appear as amaturs.