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 ...

View on Amazon

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

More By This Writer

Love Poems for My Wife

When Steve first met Cynthia back in 2000, he knew she was the woman for him and proposed to her just three months after their first date. Married to her since 2003, he has ofte...

View on Amazon

A Messy House is a Home: Poems About Love, Marriage, Parenting and Everyday Life

In this companion book to "Love Poems for My Wife," Steven Helmer uses poetry to express his feelings about being a husband, a parent and about life in general.

View on Amazon

Updated: 02/12/2016, StevenHelmer
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


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!

You might also like

Movie Review: Curve (2015)

A review of the 2015 thriller starring Julianne Hough and Teddy Sears.

Movie Review: Vacation (2015)

A review of the 2015 comedy starring Ed Helms and Christina Applegate.

Movie Review: Batman (1989)

A review of the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...