Mars Attacks! (1996)

marsattacks_1996_poster
Mars Attacks! (1996)
  • Time: 106 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Tim Burton
  • Cast: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, Natalie Portman

Storyline:

It is a normal day for everyone, until the President of the United States announces Martians have been spotted circling Earth. The Martians land and a meeting is arranged, but not everything goes to plan, and the Martians seem to have other plans for Earth. Are they just misunderstood beings or do they really want to destroy all of humanity?

One review

  • One of my all-time favorite movies, and with a brilliant score by Danny Elfman (Simpsons). Mars Attacks! blends a brilliant script and clever storyline with outrageous 50’s & 60’s scifi chic and effects – and possibly the best cast assembled in the last 30 years of film. I believe Burton reaches a creative peak in making this ‘evil vs mainly evil’ black comedy. Cast performances are uniformly top-notch. Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Michael J.Fox, Rod Steiger, Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Pam Grier, Natalie Portman, Martin Short, Jack Black, Joe Don Baker, in fact the entire lead cast, all nail their roles with relish and class. I save the highest accolades of performance for two people in particular, though. Annette Bening and Jim Brown. Bening, as the flaky, gambling, buddhist hippy, dissipated reforming alcoholic wife of Art Land (Nicholson’s 2nd character in the film) steals the show whenever she’s on screen. Bening show’s she’s simply brilliant at bringing a character to life with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of entertainment. Her Alcoholics Anonymous meeting scene at the start of the Martian invasion is one of many pieces of her inspired comedy performance in Mars Attacks!

    Equally stellar, but in an entirely different way, is Jim Brown’s ex-heavyweight champ, Byron Williams. Totalled by his separation from his wife (Pam Grier) and kids, for past crimes and misdemeanors, Williams is eeking out a living as a meet n greet doorman at a Vegas casino. His journey, of battling his personal demons and then the Martian horde, to be re-united with his family a changed man, gives the audience a classic moment of redemption. The Martian invasion sees him take a stand no other character in the story achieves – an act of total self sacrifice in the face of annihilation. And we’re led to believe he’s made the ultimate sacrifice, until the final few scenes. Outside the wrecked home of his family, the camera pans up from a pair of dusty sandaled feet to reveal a bruised and battered Brown, still wearing his dinky Egyptian breast plate and skirt, striding toward his home and the redemption he’s finally earned. We’re not told how he gets there, but the acts of courage, his beating the odds and being re-united with his family is what we’re after, and what we’re given . There were other heroes in this film, but Brown’s character runs the gamut of human hardship (and the gauntlet of evil Martians), to get there, and he gives his performance without breaking a sweat. There are too many classic and iconic scenes in this movie to mention them all. Burton’s vision, the efforts of his crew and the cast, have created a dramatic entertainment of satire, parody and fun. The amount of divided opinion on this film shows many people weren’t ready to get it. It’s a pity, because those who do get it know they’re dining at a banquet.

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