Movie Review: Mars Attacks! (1996)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1996 science fiction film starring Jack Nicholson and Glenn Close.

Synopsis: When aliens from Mars arrive on Earth, every effort is made to welcome the visitors. However, when the Martians kill both the welcoming party and members of Congress, it becomes apparent the two worlds are at war and there is no way to broker peace. Unfortunately for Earth, the Martians have much better weapons.


This film came on one of our movie channels last night and, even though I had already seen it about a half dozen times before, I ended up watching it again. As was the case the other times I watched this movie, I fully enjoyed it.

There are a couple things I like about this Tim Burton-directed science fiction film. The first is, even though the movie takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the science fiction/alien invasion genre and keeps things lighthearted, it still manages to be a pretty decent science fiction film. The humans are caught off guard, are slow to react and are outgunned. As a result, there's no obvious way to beat the Martians and that does keep the film interesting.

Another thing I liked about this movie was the generous use of well-known Hollywood actors ranging from Michael J. Fox to Sarah Jessica Parker. Usually, the top stars in movies like this are pretty much guaranteed to survive until the end. This movie makes sure to show that is not the case this time and, because of that, the uncertainty about who would be the next to die did keep the film from becoming predictable. In fact, even the family pets weren't guaranteed survival.

When I first watched this film, I wasn't sure if I would like not being able to understand what the aliens were saying or doing. But, as it turns out, that actually works really well with the rest of the film because, once again, it keeps things from getting predictable. Plus, since we don't really know what the aliens are saying (or if the hastily-constructed translator actually works), there is, at least early on, some question about whether or not they intended to invade or it's just one big misunderstanding.

Mars Attacks!

Awake, Earthlings! It's later than you think. Don't miss this hilarious frenzy as Tim Burton directs - and Mars Attacks! See! Stars that shine across the galaxy. Jack Nicholson ...

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Final Opinion

This is a fun science fiction film that doesn't take itself too seriously but still manages to be very entertaining. If you haven't watched this movie before, you should take the time to do so.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 01/23/2017, StevenHelmer
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candy47 on 02/13/2016

Mars Attacks! is an easy movie to watch, I enjoyed it. I live in the town of the 'pink church'. It's still there!

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