Saturday Movie Review – “Mars Attacks!”

The Saturday movie reviews continue this week, with a
Tim Burton film from the late 1990s.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Jack Nicholson as President James Dale / Art Land

Glenn Close as First Lady Marsha Dale

Annette Bening as Barbara Land

Pierce Brosnan as Professor Donald Kessler

Danny DeVito as Rude Gambler

Martin Short as Press Secretary Jerry Ross

Sarah Jessica Parker as Nathalie Lake

Michael J. Fox as Jason Stone

Rod Steiger as General Decker

Tom Jones as himself

Jim Brown as Byron Williams

Lukas Haas as Richie Norris

Natalie Portman as Taffy Dale

Pam Grier as Louise Williams

Lisa Marie as Martian Girl

Jack Black as Billy Glenn Norris

Joe Don Baker as Richie’s Dad

O-Lan Jone as Sue Ann Norris

Christina Applegate as Sharona

Screenplay by Jonathan Gems, based on trading cards
written by Len
Brown, Woody Gelman, Wally Wood, Bob Powell, and
Norman Saunders

Directed by Tim Burton

Complete information is available from the

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Past movie reviews can be found here.


Martians come to Earth, and they’re not friendly.

High Point

The Washington Monument moment was my favourite homage
to movies past,
though I’d have chosen the “guess it wasn’t the dove”
line if I hadn’t
watched so many of those old movies.

Low Point

The conclusion. It was lame when Macross used it ten
years earlier,
and it’s still lame now.

The Scores

While there is some originality in choosing
to adapt playing
cards rather than some actual story, it’s not much.
This was entirely
about paying homage to the low grade flicks from the
1950s. It’s not
that original, and probably won’t appeal to those who
don’t enjoy the
older fare. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects were plentiful. Virtually every
scene had some
sort of effect, which was very ambitious when this was
released. Many
of the effects involved very fluid motion, as well.
Still, there are
no difficulties distinguishing the CGI from the
physical props, which
is enough to hold it back to 5 out of 6.

The story is the weakest element. I haven’t
seen the trading
cards, but knowing that they were the source material
was enough for
me to expect this. We’ve got a cast loaded with
characters, played by good actors, but who are barely
defined past a
single dimension. There are very few actual events to
propel things
along. I don’t mind a movie that’s all about
characters and not about
plot, but to pull it off you need layered characters
who grow and
change. Here, we’ve got just enough to get us to the
next cheap
joke. The jokes that were invented for this film
often didn’t work,
though those that were included as homage to past
films work extremely
well. I give it 2 out of 6.

The acting is hammy and over-the-top, which
is exactly the
way I assume they were told to play it. I give it 4
out of 6.

The emotional response is good. This movie
can be loads of
fun, if you go in familiar with the 1950s trash and
the knowledge that
it’s meant to be an homage to those films. I give it
4 out of 6.

The production was limited by something of an
with the special effects used. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a fairly fun movie, but only
for a select
audience in the proper mood. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Mars Attacks! receives 25 out of

Next Week

Next week we’ll finally get around to reviewing
The Matrix, which is one of the first movies
every requested for review, and one of the few that
didn’t get reviewed before its sequels hit. Of
course, when you read the review, you may understand
why I’ve been reluctant to post one here.

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