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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: June 3: Mars Attacks!


June 3: Mars Attacks!

The Earth is invaded by Martians with irresistible weapons and a cruel sense of humor.

It is always sad watching a movie you remember loving as a kid and then, only now, realizing how bad of a movie it really is. Some times, these films should just stay in the crevices of your younger mind, lingering simply to thoughts of nostalgia. Okay, enough of the sermon and onto the review. Mars Attacks! is a very bad movie. Packed with nearly every star that was relevant in 1996, the film attempts to be a spoof of the old sci-fi movies of the 50s and 60s, even channeling Tim Burton's earlier inspiration in Ed Wood. However, Mars Attacks! does not come off as clever, or spoofy?, just bad. The film does not spoof the films of yesteryear and instead mimics and duplicates them in horrible ways. 

The guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 would have a field day with Mars Attacks!

To give you an idea of how "grand" the film tries to be, just take a look at the cast. The movie stars Jack Nicholson, Glen Close, Pierce Brosnan, Natalie Portman, Christina Applegate, Jack Black, Annette Benning, Danny DeVito, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, and yes, even Tom Jones. It's absolutely ridiculous that so many people (most of them at the peaks of their careers in 1996) came together to make this film. You would also think, that with this much talent, the film would be much better than it is. However, even then, you can't put the blame on the cast, because for the most part, they all know it's bad, and just have fun with what little script and ideas they were given. The plot tells the story of a Martian invasion on earth and shows what happens at all corners of the country. Nicholson plays the president, and while don't think I could ever see the Joker in the Oval Office, his attempt at being the Leader of the Free World is one of the few entertaining aspects to the film. I could go on and explain who every person plays, but then this review would be ten pages long and certainly the most tedious read. And, it really doesn't matter either. Each actor pops up here and there, with his/her encounter with the aliens in some way or another. It's here where the plot suffers, as the constant jumping around just makes everything a much bigger mess than it already is. The film implodes in on itself, as the weight of the cast and the over-the-top attempt to be some satirical spoof of Old Hollywood ruins the film. 

But even as bad as the film really is, I will always love the Ack-ing, Nitrogen breathing aliens who turn people into Christmas skeletons with their death rays. 

If you have already seen Mars Attacks! and have fond memories of the film like I used to, I would definitely recommend skipping a new viewing of the film. Let it lay in the past as something enjoyable and move on to bigger and better things. If, however, you have never seen the film, I won't say it's worth watching. I certainly cannot say the movie is great and while I attempt to think of any suggestions on what could have been changed to make it better, I draw a blank as the film is really too bad to be fixed. I know that Tim Burton has a huge love for older movies, especially the sub-genre, cult "classics" and I know his attempt to pay homage to those same films was filled with respect and his own case of being a fan-boy, but I cannot praise the film for those aspects alone. 

The Good:
the martians look good and are pretty amusing
The Bad:
a complete lack of a solid script and what little there is, is messier than the inside of a space helmet after an alien's head explodes inside
The Ugly:
wondering if this mega-cast "comedy" was a precursor to the likes of Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve, or even a foreshadowing that no matter how many stars you pack into a turd, it's still a piece of shit... just shinier

Overall: 3.5/10


After watching Men in Black last night and Mars Attacks! tonight, I am thinking of doing an alien movie week, leading up to Prometheus next weekend. Thoughts? Suggestions?

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