Mars Attacks!

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Warner Bros. Released 1996

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8.2
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Movie Summary

Director:
Tim Burton (I)
Released:
1996
Rating:
PG-13

Mars Attacks!, a 1996 film directed by Tim Burton, loosely based on a 1962 trading card series depicting a Martian attack on Earth, is a black comedy affectionately parodying B science fiction films of the 50s and '60s. Featuring an impressive cast of actors including Jack Nicholson, playing two roles as James Dale, the perpetually optimistic and naive President of the United States and Art Land, a Las Vegas Real estate developer; Glenn Close as Marsha Dale, the First Lady; Natalie Portman as Taffy Dale, the daughter of the President; Annette Benning as Art Land's wife; Martin Short as the President's press secretary; Pierce Brosnan as Donald Kessler, a somewhat clueless professor trying to understand the Martians; Michael J Fox as Jason Stone, a network news answer; Sarah Jessica Parker as Natalie Lake, a talk show host, involved in a love triangle between Donald Kessler and Jason Stone. The movie also features Tom Jones, Jim Brown, Jack Black, Danny DeVito, Pam Grier, Rod Steiger, Lukas Haas, and Christina Applegate. The plot follows the Martians as they arrive on earth and launch a series of gleefully sadistic attacks, including vaporizing the US congress, capturing people for bizarre experiments and blasting major monuments out of existence as well as the reactions of the cast members as they attempt to cope with the Martian invasion, usually meeting sudden, slapstick deaths at the hands of the invaders. Ultimately, as in the B-movies it parodies, the Martian invaders are found to have a weakness, in this case hearing the Slim Whitman song "Indian Love Call" which causes the Martians' heads to violently explode, allowing the few survivors to fight off the invasion and rebuild the earth.

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Metacritic Score

  • 60

    Variety 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...

  • 50

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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, o...

  • 40

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    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) i...

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