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Blu-ray Review: Mars Attacks!
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Jack Bauerstein83   |  
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Mars Attacks! Blu-ray DVDMars Attacks!
Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Jack Nicholson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, Jack Black, Pierce Brosnan, Annette Bening, Glenn Close
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Release Date September 7, 2010

If anything can be learned from Tim Burton‘s Mars Attacks!, I believe it is this: Any movie that is based off a card game is not headed to anywhere good.

You can pretty much gather the plotline of the movie just by reading the title, but just for sake of the review, let’s go through the basics. When UFOs are discovered flying toward planet Earth, The President and Washington’s top scientists debate on what their next course of action should be. Believing that the visitors are a friendly bunch, the President sends our military to greet them as they land. With the whole world watching, aliens show their true colors and they don’t appear to be in the mood to give hugs. Now, as Mars attacks, it will take an unlikely hero to step up and defend the Earth from being destroyed.

While watching this B movie, I noticed two things right away. For one thing, the special effects are pretty decent. All the aliens, spaceships, ray gun beams, and alien goop all looked realistic and on par with the effects we see in movies now (a huge feat for a movie that is 14 years old). Even with the sharpness of the Blu-ray version, the effects do not seem to falter.

Another thing is just how many stars are in this one film. Stars from the past (Jack Nicholson, Michael J. Fox, Jim Brown) and present (Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Christina Applegate) all show up in one form or another to play in Tim Burton’s movie sandbox. Even Natalie Portman and Jack Black show up in small roles. It is such a shame that even with this much talent on the roster, Mars doesn’t ever reach its full potential.

I think a lot of that has to do with the script itself. Penned by Jonathan Gems, the movie is supposed to be a satirical take on the B-movie space invader movies genre. However, in combining the two elements, the fun quotient gets canceled out of the equation. At times the movie just feels very soulless. Even when the body count was rising, I felt that naughty sense of glee of watching various folks bite the big one. I never cared too much about what was happening to most of them.

Despite the all star cast, none of the characters are remotely engaging. With the exception of Nicholson, who plays two characters in the film and chews up the scenery in both, all the actors seemed to be putting as little effort into their roles as possible. It is hard to blame them though, since they have so little to work with. The only bright spot is Bryon, played by Brown, a former boxer trying to get back home to protect his ex-wife and kids. Watching him box aliens was pretty amusing, not to mention seeing Tom Jones, in a cameo appearance, perform his hit song “It’s Not Unusual.”

Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! is certainly not Burton’s best work. I think had he had a larger role in writing this picture, some of his dark humor would have rubbed off nicely on this picture. So while the direction of the film and the overall look is a step above other B movies, the below average script prevents the film from being a true B-movie classic.

5 Comments »

  1. Disagree strongly with this review. Reviewer clearly missed the point of this movie.

    Comment by Joe Rioux — September 20, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  2. Originally when I heard Burton was interested in Monsterpocalypse, a property created by Privateer Press’ miniature collectable game based on kaiju films, I thought that it was quite random. But seeing that Mars Attacks was based on a card game, it’s no longer weird territory. Monsterpocalypse is a really, really fun game and looking forward to the film in all it’s epic silliness.

    Comment by Slipstream — September 20, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  3. Nah, I liked Mars Attacks! Keep in mind that it was released around the same time as ID4; it’s amazing how good a piss-take it is of that other, annoyingly melodramatic film.

    Comment by unwesen — September 21, 2010 @ 4:05 am

  4. Agree w/ Joe Rioux for the most part. This is one case where I don’t mind using the phrase “it is what it is”. It’s supposed to be a star studded riduclous throwback to disaster films and it keeps well in the spirit of the cards.
    And btw, Mars Attacks was a trading card series, not a card game =)

    Comment by Dex — September 21, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  5. Ok, I don’t mind that you didn’t like the flick, although personally I did. But we’ve all had over a decade to form our opinions of it. What I want in a bluray review of an older flick like this is at least a mention of what special features the BD has or doesn’t have. What can you tell me about that?

    Comment by Alien Alex — October 9, 2010 @ 9:57 am

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