Mars Attacks! (1996)

Tim Burton directs Jack Nicholson, Jim Brown and Tom Jones in this sci-fi parody where aliens invade with deadly intent and humanity is uncertain how to react.

A ton of affection for this. The Martians are just as cute, chaotic, murderous and anarchic as the gremlins. The original plan was to create them with painstaking stop motion animation but that was eventually decreed too expensive. The upshot of the late in the day decision to realise them as CGI creations is that their design mimics stop motion puppets anyway. The fact that the gleeful green nasties aren’t trying to stretch what technology can do actually means the vision of the movie hasn’t dated clunkily. Mars Attacks holds up because it never aimed for photo realistic monsters. Burton has a lot of joy in killing off most of his all star cast. It is wasteful but democratic. The ensemble is so busy that the first hour feels like a necklace of DVD extras. A string of cut scenes included while a proper movie goes on somewhere else. This lackadaisical approach again works in the movie’s long term favour. Big budget maybe but knowingly throwaway. Cameos from Tom Jones as himself and Lisa Marie as a sexy infiltration assassin stay in the memory. This is Burton’s The Day The Earth Stood Still and Jack Nicholson’s Dr Strangelove. If you can get past the spaced out, lo-fi energy of it all – you’ll have a blast.


Perfect Double Bill: Independence Day (1996)

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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