December 18, 1996 -- "Mars Attacks!" is an attempt to combine a 1950's science fiction movie and a modern comedy. It is a very disappointing effort by director Tim Burton.
The trailers for the film looked so promising. It has a large cast of talented actors, including Jack Nicholson as the president and Glenn Close as the first lady. There's Danny DeVito, Annette Benning, Pierce Brosnan, Rod Steiger, Paul Winfield, Michael J. Fox. The list goes on and on.
The trouble with that is, every time you start getting interested in one of these characters, they get killed. One leading lady gets crushed under a falling chandelier, presumably for laughs. After a while, all this carnage has a palling effect on the intended humor of the movie. Even black humor needs character development and there's very little of that in this film. Most of the characters are cartoon-like.
Another problem with the film is director Tim Burton's ("Batman") addiction to gross-out special effects. There is no excuse for them. They represent nothing but indulgence by the filmmaker at the expense of the audience. The story also takes way too long to develop and it doesn't speed up much after the invasion begins. This film really drags, perhaps because of the need to jump around between all of these story lines and follow all of those characters.
The film does have a point. It tries to get across a message about love and families being more important than power, prestige and science. The "final solution" to the Martian problem is funny and quirky. There are some very funny bits in the film, but they are few and far between. This film rates a D, for dud.
I've read reports from other people who really loved this film. One guy on the Internet said he liked it so much his moviegoing experience wasn't spoiled by the fact that he saw the guy sitting next to him gunned down and killed right after the movie outside the theater. That tells you all you need to know about the kind of mentality it takes to truly enjoy this film. You gotta be real sensitive to appreciate homicide for laughs.
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