Mars Attacks (12)

Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Jack Nicholson, Glen Close, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J Fox , Annette Bening

Tim Burton has an eye for the wierd and way out. His movies are usually visually memorable and imaginatively designed. However, this is a one joke movie. It is basically spoof Independence Day. Within this there are funny moments, but I expected more.
Just like ID4, aliens arrive, and attepts are made at contact, however, these aliens are not interested in chatting either, and start unleashing their impressive guns on the welcoming committee. The president(Nicholson) tries to marshall his forces. We also look in on a Vegas entrepreneur (Nicholson again, for no apparent reason.) As with ID4, the saviour of the world is an unexpected one, but the Martians ARE defeated.
One of Burton's chief delights seems to be killing off his stars. He does this with real relish! Michael J Fox has a spectactular end, and President Nicholson's is a blackly funny one. The Martians themselves are grotesque yet funny computer generated images, all brains and bulging eyes.
There are some funny bits, but the humour is very dark. Think the Penguin in Batman Returns, or Beetlejuice. I did like the ray guns the Martians used to reduce people to brightly coloured skeletons in seconds, the SFX were impressive. And of course, as the makers of ID4 discovered, people love to see government buildings blown up. We have congress torched, the Eiffel tower toppled and Big Ben exploded here! There is nothing wrong with a bit of subversive humour, but I was disappointed because it really wasn't that daring or subversive. Funny looking aliens do horrid things to the Earth until defeated by an old lady and her grandson. Lots of big stars die nastily. That is it. An awful lot of effort for a minor giggle. 5/10.

March 1997

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