I'm not amazed at the large number of people who think this 'schmutz' is 'great, brilliant, misunderstood, date', etc.
It's NONE of them.
Tim Burton IS very talented, but this is a sad example of a runaway project. I'm sure that - in the beginning of this disaster, Tim had a good idea of a campus, retro-y send-up of 50's 'space Invaders' flicks, doing it with the magic (early 90's) modern computer tech could give, and populate the film with a broad cast of actors - the whole gamut from 'a-listers', to b-schlock actors, blaxploitation stalwarts and whether they were integral or had a funny line or 2, the whole thing would gel as one of those great films people go to because theirs 'someone and something for everyoneany, many more
But then, Burton's idea became weighted down - first by the studio talking heads, and then by the very people hired (or 'suggested be hired') to bring this film to life.
First up; that actor who was in everything during this period, Jack Nicholson.
Personally,other than his work in several (very) few films, I've never liked (despised?) Jack Nicholson. His stick has served him long and well, but, by this point in time (he'd recently done a Burton Batman in which he was - who else - the Joker (ugh).
By this point in time, he's become an acting equivalent to the so-called rock 'supergroups' of the early 70's - the ELPs and the ilk, which engendered so much hatred, such dislike with their endless, monotonous, rambling 'solo' parts; a 15-minute of mindless flute playing, or a drum solo, or whatnot.
All done - not in service of the music, nor fans, but, in service to themselves - 'it's ME', this drivel said, amplified, and echoed throughout many stadiums - full of bic lighter-waving mullet-haired boys (and girls).
In rock, this egotistical nonsense was enough to fury the genesis of punk music.
Nicholson wass a dinosaur by this point ('his best performance' during this time was in Heathers, played with gusto by Christian Slater), and watching him (in a dual role, nonetheless!) only serves to show how out of control a 'talent' such as his can go.
Compare his tired, meandering, pointless hamming, with Peter Sellers in Kubrick's legendary Dr Strangelove, in which Sellers performed 3 totally individual characters, while Nicholson - 'plays' 2; a vaguely... Nicholson 'president', as well as a prosthetic-laden Southern (?) 'rich guy' in Las Vegas. Both of them are 'Jack as president, Jack as Southern guy', which isn't acting, is just a guy saying; 'look at me!'
Why was out necessary for one actor of limited reach to try and attempt to play 2 characters who are polar opposite? Who knows. Who cares.
I really do like Tim Burton, a great exclamation I was taught - in relation to a different arena was that a true talent is able to make a new 'world', and in this world, the rules - whatever they are - must be followed. This is an analogy, folks, not literal, but, either way, there must be logic - no matter how bizarre - that is filled in it.
In Burton's case, he had created a ''universe', and all the films and all the characters in them fill it, and all make sense in that universe.
That is truly talent!
But, I think this film could've fit into the Burton universe a helluva lot better than it is, but it became so bloated (by rampant egos) as it moved down the production line from inception, development, to fruition, it became a mess.
To run a 'universe' automatically means one MUST maintain rigid control over it, and not sure others who don't fully 'get it' to 'add stuff'.
People - whether they're brilliant record producers (like the amazing Phil Spector), to film makers (Fellini, Orson Welles, etc al), tend to work with a core-group - actors (or musicians), cinematographers (or engineers), all working in harmony to create a single vision.
It got out of Burton's control here.
The cast - for me it falls into 2 very diametrically opposite groups; actors I really like, and those I despise (guess which one both jack's after in 😉).
For the life of me, I can't phantom why S.J. Parker has a career. When she was young(ISH) - in Square Pegs, she was cute. Boring, but cute. She quickly morphed into a hideous, taughtly pulled, leather-skinned harpy-like creature, and other than seeing 'itself' on the screen, can anyone recall JUST one film in which 'it' 'became' the character, and you believed her (please; automatic 'fail' if you mention anything to do with the truly wretched 'sex and the ...'' sh-t-) Why on earth does she ever get ANY work!?!?!? I will say one pleasant moment is seeing her nauseating head where it belongs; stapled to a chihuahua's body (she really is a 'beyotch'), and even though I know it's just a film, I feel bad that anything had to suffer for this - Mr Broderick's beard (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).
You've the lovely Sylvia Sydney as the out-of-it grandma to a family which consists of the inimitable cracker crumbs and cheez-whizz in the bed (LMAO) Joe Don Baker ('Mitchell!' I keep hearing Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo yelling out), and several others. Pam Grier's wasted, as are so many others - all at the expense of letting the '2 Jacks' have more screen-time
It's like a truly wretched faux-camp 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' of cameos, simply for the sake of people going, 'wasn't that....?'
It's very possible there might've actually been a script - a story, but, it's been so subsumed by mugging, corpsing, and general rampant ego, that there's nothing really coherent left. As the film's title says, Mars attacks, but, it's really 'ego attacks', because nothing's fleshed out, instead it's just half-baked ideas, none of which comes to a conclusion, so you just have lots of bits and pieces, i.e., wouldn't it be funny if Rod Steiger plays a gung-ho, crazed military guy (again, with shades of George C. Scott in the aforementioned Kubrick film), and he's constantly wanting to 'crush, kill, destroy' (a quote from the quintessential campy space-with-monsters TV series, Lost In Space), yet nothing develops.
The one interesting image is played by Burton's longtime girlfriend, Lisa Marie (no, not 'Presley'; just Lisa Marie), as a silent.., character. Her look is striking.
I don't 'miss the point' I get it. I have a (very) dark sense of humour (hell; I 'got' - and love Showgirls, while most people think it's 'bad', it's brilliant). There's 'bad-good', and the much more common; 'bad-bad', which this, sadly, is.
That's it. This is another massive waste of a lot of money - the end result of it all is nothing.
I'd wish that Burton (and directors in similar situations) would, someday be able to rework films that had veered far off the originally projected mark - perhaps recut it - redo the effects (not make them more 'realistic', make them look more bad-REAL-istic, I'd your understand, and hopefully, in all the cans of film shot, come up with something watchable, but for now, I'd say to potential viewer's; go watch Dr Strangelove, and an(y) episode of Lost In Space. By doing so, you'll 'hit' all the marks this mish-mosh meant to, but failed - miserably, and didn't.
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