Warner Bros. Pictures | Release Date: December 13, 1996
6.6
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 116 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
63
Mixed:
38
Negative:
15
WATCH NOW
Stream On
Stream On
Review this movie
VOTE NOW
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Check box if your review contains spoilers 0 characters (5000 max)
8
SpangleDec 14, 2016
Known for his gothic films, Tim Burton embraces his weird side in Mars Attacks! Okay, he embraces his weird side in every film he has ever made, but I mean, his really weird side. Light, stupid, and incredibly funny, Mars Attacks! is anKnown for his gothic films, Tim Burton embraces his weird side in Mars Attacks! Okay, he embraces his weird side in every film he has ever made, but I mean, his really weird side. Light, stupid, and incredibly funny, Mars Attacks! is an riotously funny science fiction comedy that is more than in on the joke and knows actions on screen are absurd. With its tongue placed firmly in its cheek, Tim Burton's film offers more laughs than it knows what to do with, while also giving a humorous look at people's reactions to the attacks. From weirdos in Vegas to a pair of kids who were clearly prepared for the attack, the President, the military, and rednecks in Kansas, Mars Attacks! offers some political insight, but more or less settles for being tongue-in-cheek science fiction film and I was more than okay with this approach.

Spoofing 1950s science fiction films, Mars Attacks! features an ensemble cast led by Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Natalie Portman, Jack Black, Pam Grier, Christina Applegate, and Ray J before his Kim Kardashian sex tape. This cast hams it up a ton in their various roles with each of them engaging in hysterical encounters with the attacking alien forces. As for standouts among this cast, Nicholson is a big highlight in a duel role as the President and, in Vegas, as real estate developer Art Land. Offering two very different performances between the serious President and the outlandish and crazy Art Land, Nicholson is both a calming presence and a great source of dry humor in the film. Natalie Portman is also hysterical here as the President's daughter. Though incredibly young, her deadpan delivery and comedic timing make every word that leaves her mouth comedic gold. Pierce Brosnan as a cocky professor, Sarah Jessica Parker as a fashion talk show host, and Martin Short as the White House press secretary, are also highlights here.

Plot-wise, Mars Attacks! is pretty typical with a lot of the film focusing on determining whether or not the aliens are hostile or not. However, once they get their answer ("spoiler": they are going to attack), all hell breaks loose. Burton steps on the gas, pours fire on it, and laughs maniacally as the film spirals into control. With entertaining deaths, great one-liners and gags along the way ("they killed Congress!"), and fun action set pieces, Mars Attacks! embraces the absurdity and has a ton of fun with it. In particular, an encounter between Martin Short and an "attractive" alien is hysterical. Additionally, the running dialogue between Pierce Brosnan's severed head and Sarah Jessica Parker's head attached to a dog's body is both absurd and even more comical when considered in the context of the situation they find themselves in during the film.

With purposely cheap-looking aliens, the film reaches great heights as a spoof with oddly comical aliens that openly mock the science fiction genre and dedication put into making realistic looking aliens. Yet, in terms of spoofing the genre, its depiction of the United States is great. Dignified, advanced, and self-assured, the generals and President are quickly bamboozled by the aliens who use their own inventions as comedic tools (the translator running gag is great). Even better, the use of nuclear weapons being quickly embraced by the aliens is tremendous, as is the full-scale invasion of Washington DC, the use of the Washington monument, and the mayhem in the White House. All are uproariously absurd and keep making you wonder, "Did that really happen?", but the answer to this question is also, unequivocally, "Yes and it was glorious." By mocking the death of a useless Congress, the ineffectiveness of the nuclear bomb, the gung-ho general, and peace-loving President and Professor, Mars Attacks! really satirizes many elements of politics and it is hard to say what side the film comes down on. At the end of the day, both the pacifists and war advocates wound up dying. If anything, Mars Attacks! seems to say, "F*** it we all die anyways."

With gloriously terrible computer animation, hilarious dialogue, purposely awful music (that Grandma deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor for listening to that stuff), and a lively cast who deliver their lines with the right amount of cheese, Mars Attacks! is a great comedy film. Spoofing B-movies and 1950s paranoia-laced science fiction horror, Mars Attacks! demands that its audience be willing to go along with it throughout. This does not mean shutting off your brain or anything stupid like that. Rather, its brand of humor is all its own and requires that the audience just accept this oddity that will unfold and tries to enjoy the ride. As a result, Mars Attacks! is wildly divisive, but I found myself to be firmly residing in the "Yay" section.
Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
All this user's reviews
4
BrianMcCriticJun 22, 2013
An all star cast leads to Tim Burton's first sub par film. This film has a who's who of talented actors and actresses, but unfortunately it has a silly script and ridiculous aliens.
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
All this user's reviews
6
Rox22Apr 16, 2013
Mars Attacks tries too hard to be an intentionally bad movie. Even so, it still is charming and definitely nails the "so-bad-that-it's-good" category. Tons of cameos of stars that really shouldn't be in the movie at all.

Overall: This is
Mars Attacks tries too hard to be an intentionally bad movie. Even so, it still is charming and definitely nails the "so-bad-that-it's-good" category. Tons of cameos of stars that really shouldn't be in the movie at all.

Overall:
This is a bad movie, no doubt about that. But, it is also incredibly charming and worth a watch for a quick tasteless laugh.
Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
All this user's reviews
5
MovieMasterEddyApr 3, 2016
A goofy cultural artifact, Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" is a cult sci-fi comedy miscast as an elaborate, all-star studio extravaganza. The technically brilliant picture possesses a quirky insider tone that will appeal to specializedA goofy cultural artifact, Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" is a cult sci-fi comedy miscast as an elaborate, all-star studio extravaganza. The technically brilliant picture possesses a quirky insider tone that will appeal to specialized student-age audiences and older sci-fi fans but will fly over, under and around the general public.

Although the intent and feel of the film, which is based on some rare Topps trading cards of the early ’60s, are very different from “Independence Day,” this pic’s belligerent aliens and massive worldwide destruction they unleash, including the demolition of Washington, D.C. landmarks, unavoidably remind of the blockbuster. Burton’s picture could even be construed as something of a satire of the summer’s monster hit, although it was clearly made with no reference to it.

After a surreal curtain-raiser involving some stampeding barbecued cows, pic gets down to business quickly, as hundreds of hubcap-like, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”-style flying saucers approach Earth, and Americans, led by president Jack Nicholson, optimistically prepare to welcome them in friendly fashion.

During the initial half-hour, as the world awaits the Martians’ landing, an assortment of characters in three distinct locations present themselves. In Kansas, there is a trailer-home family in which gun-nut son Jack Black heads off for Army duty while his misfit brother, Lukas Haas, mans the donut stand and looks after Grandma (Sylvia Sidney).

n Las Vegas, a sleazy hotel entrepreneur, also played by Nicholson, is hatching a scheme for the biggest hotel yet on the Strip while wife Annette Bening swears off booze in favor of New Age enthusiasms. At the same time, former heavyweight champ Jim Brown, reduced to working as a Pharaonic greeter at an Egyptian-themed hotel, is plotting a return to his family, consisting of no-nonsense Pam Grier and two teenage sons, in D.C.

But the main action is in the White House, where gung-ho general Rod Steiger, looking like Mussolini, and first lady Glenn Close urge the prez to nuke the visitors posthaste, while pipe-smoking scientific adviser Pierce Brosnan assures everyone of the Martians’ undoubted civility and goodwill.

When the big day of the space invaders’ landing arrives, the Martian spokesthing, with its skeletal head, bulging, rolling eyes and enormous brain emerging atop a dazzling red robe, assures the crowd of military, led by Colin Powell-like general Paul Winfield, media, leftover hippies and New Agers that they come in peace — and then abruptly leads its cohorts in frying the assembled humans with ray guns.

Despite this shock, the president invites the Martian ambassador to address a joint session of Congress, whereupon the politicos are promptly incinerated as well. Thus begins a full-scale war, with the Martians invading in force, laughing uproariously as they wipe out everyone and everything in their path and killing off a good many of the principals in the process. Ultimately, the least likely character in the piece is the one to find the aliens’ unexpected Achilles’ heel.

But 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. Pic is loaded with wit, nifty little ideas and an extraordinary sense of design, but its allure is of quite a particular nature, much closer to that of “Ed Wood” than of Burton’s earlier, and far more commercially successful, works.

For connoisseurs, then, there are many pleasures to be had; others may find the film amusing but hardly compelling. The affection Burton and his cohorts possess for the sci-fi of the Cold War era is unmistakable, and is conveyed here through a loving reinterpretation of the aesthetic of the period. Hats off to the exceptional production team, from production designer Wynn Thomas, costume designer Colleen Atwood and lenser Peter Suschitzky to the many special- and visual-effects hands, who have done a superlative job making deliberately cheesy and artificial effects look seamless and utterly convincing. Music also plays a key part in the proceedings, from Danny Elfman’s patented fun-house sounds to some mordantly used pop tunes.

The insidious little Martians are great fun to watch, especially as they cast withering glances at the naive Earthlings and take great sport in doing them in. Creatures were computer-generated, and interact with utter precision and believability with the human actors and real backgrounds.
Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
All this user's reviews
6
FilmVirtueSep 10, 2014
A very well constructed parody of 50's films. The effects are not convincing but are well created, plus the action filled story combined with comedy makes for a well rounded film experience---for what It's worth
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
All this user's reviews
8
EssenceOfSugarJan 20, 2013
This stylistic feature of black comedy has put quite a mark on reflecting and perhaps parodying America's attitudes towards culture and materialism. The fact that the design of the UFOs and Martians were less shoddy and more of what we thinkThis stylistic feature of black comedy has put quite a mark on reflecting and perhaps parodying America's attitudes towards culture and materialism. The fact that the design of the UFOs and Martians were less shoddy and more of what we think of them means that it helps to look at these in terms of our assumptions. A great ensemble of character with their own time to shine, the comedy is affectionate as well as outrageous. It's not meant to be predictable, it's the fact that the characters should have seen this one coming. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
All this user's reviews
9
ILHMJan 31, 2013
The aliens are upon us, and they do not come in peace! After a fleet of warships are spotted on their approach to Earth, the world leaders prepare to welcome the intergalactic invaders from Mars, but are instead vaporized by their laser deathThe aliens are upon us, and they do not come in peace! After a fleet of warships are spotted on their approach to Earth, the world leaders prepare to welcome the intergalactic invaders from Mars, but are instead vaporized by their laser death rays! Who will save us when MARS ATTACKS? Tim Burton's irreverent black comedy combines the high camp of a Roger Corman production with Sam Raimi's particular brand of "splatstick" humor for an end result that is nothing short of hilarious! MARS ATTACKS features an all-star lineup that includes Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Annette Benning, Michael J. Fox, and many, many more playing ridiculous caricatures of our social and political figureheads. Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Rod Steiger stand out in particular as the two opposing heads of government. Nicholson plays the politically-correct President of the United States who overlooks the aliens' initial attacks as being a "cultural misunderstanding," while Steiger gives us a taste of DR. STRANGELOVE as General Decker, whose hand is always on the button as he anxiously awaits the authorization to deploy his nuclear deterrents. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
All this user's reviews
5
NecromusFeb 7, 2013
If you're looking for a B-movie quality parody of B-movies with a bunch of well-known actors thrown into a plot-less confusion of a movie then you'll enjoy this! But if you are like me you'll just leave the theater after viewing it scratchingIf you're looking for a B-movie quality parody of B-movies with a bunch of well-known actors thrown into a plot-less confusion of a movie then you'll enjoy this! But if you are like me you'll just leave the theater after viewing it scratching your head saying "What the hell was that I just watched?" Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
All this user's reviews
1
ricky1121Oct 8, 2014
Very disappointed in this movie. The destruction scene looks like a cartoon! The martians look like a cartoon! At least Independence Day managed to be very good!
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
All this user's reviews
10
WWABTT123Sep 9, 2010
Martians are look like completely not realistic graphics but a good plot
1 of 4 users found this helpful13
All this user's reviews
3
DeeFeb 9, 2006
No real plot. The movie was all over the board. The scenes made good actors appear as amaturs.
2 of 4 users found this helpful
2
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 recipe for disaster.
3 of 4 users found this helpful
0
BobB.May 29, 2006
Tim Burton made this? or was he just making an attempt at a modern Ed Wood film?
2 of 2 users found this helpful
10
StephenS.Sep 14, 2006
I just love this movie. I'm 58 years old and have been watching sci-fi movies for over 50 of those years. This movie has all the laughs of Matinee (another terrific movie) without the slightest attempt to soften the satire or blunt the I just love this movie. I'm 58 years old and have been watching sci-fi movies for over 50 of those years. This movie has all the laughs of Matinee (another terrific movie) without the slightest attempt to soften the satire or blunt the humor with pathos. Great music, beautiful photography. It gets better with each viewing. Expand
0 of 2 users found this helpful