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?Written by
The greatest aspect of _Mars Attacks!_ is that it is not supposed to be great. The film was shot on a low budget, and many of the crew, namely actors Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito, and director, Tim Burton, agreed to make the film as an homage to the TOPS Bubblegum wrapper comic series.
The film works because it doesn't present itself as being more than what it is: a parody of '50's B-films. Throughout the film, obvious references to those B-film classics, like _The Day the Earth Stood Still_ and _This Island Earth_, are present. When the Martians land in Nevada (alleged home of Area 54), Burton reminds us of those famous scenes in which the U. S. army battles the aliens with crude artillery, matched against the sophisticated ray guns of their adversaries. Because the sci-fi B-films of the '50's were infused with anxiety, precipitated by the McCarthy era, Burton plays upon this context when the Martians visit Congress and destroy every senator and representative in attendance ("We still have 2 out of 3 branches of government working for us," President Nicholson reminds his fellow Americans).
Aside from the riotous parodying which takes place, the film draws upon a cast of Oscar-nominated talent. However, realizing their true motivation for such a film as _Mars Attacks!_, Oscar nominees Glenn Close, Annette Bening, and Jack Nicholson camp it up. Immediately, an audience member acknowledges that these actors know the Academy will not reward them for their efforts in this film. However, an informed audience member would see that their acting, meant to be campy and hammed up, is at the heart of their performances. Given the fact that these are award-winning actors acting poorly, any viewer would have to applaud the performances as "sheer talent-less."
I give this film 9 out of 10 points. While not a great film, by any stretch of the imagination, it is a fun film which fulfills its purpose. Nicholson, DeVito, and Burton can be pleased with the results of their desire to bring the famous TOPS story to the screen. In an age in which Hollywood either promotes lavishly expensive, high-tech scripts or promotes artistic plot-driven storylines, _Mars Attacks!_ finds its own place and does not put on the facade of being something other than it is, an homage and revival of the classic '50's sci-fi B-film.
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