Movie of the Day – Mars Attacks!
January 24, 2013 4 Comments
Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack Ack Ack! Ack!
The storyline affectionately harkens back to the deadpan sincerity of such ’50s and ’60s science-fiction films as The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds. Flying saucers have been reliably seen over the capitals of the world, and the whole world awaits with bated breath to see what will transpire. Among those waiting is the President of the United States (Jack Nicholson), who is assured by his science advisor (Pierce Brosnan) that the coming aliens are utterly peaceful. This advice is hotly contested by the military (led by Rod Steiger), who advices the President to annihilate them. When the aliens land, they are seen to be green, garish, and very cheerful. But appearances prove deceiving when the “friendly” aliens abruptly disintegrate the entire U.S. Congress. Hollywood notables appear in vast quantities in roles (and sub-plots) of all sizes in this zany feature. ~ Clarke Fountain
This is what Tim Burton needs to do more of instead of taking some kids fairytale or story and making it goth with Depp, Carter and Danny all showing up for the same thing all the time. Mars Attacks! is the perfect, in some instances too perfect, homage and parody of the 50s alien invasion movies. You know, the ones in which dialogue, acting and everything else felt so wooden and cheesy that it is just about laughable. Those movies were meant to be solely about alien invasions and attack scenes, not some overly developed plot line. Sure there were movies released during that time that had a cultural impact or are still remembered to this day, but a lot of them had that Ed Wood sheen to it that made them pure popcorn flicks. This is what Burton is aiming to recreate and he did it perfectly.
I still think that this is one of his underrated movies, hands down. Everything about this from the scenery, directing, acting and the plot line just have that certain tinge of satire, but love with it. You can tell how influenced he was by the alien movies of the 50s, the sort of atomic age feel to them, and he just goes for it with recreating the entire 50s feel. I think that ultimately, the almost too perfect recreation of Burton’s atomic alien movie just was something that a lot of audiences weren’t really familiar with or excited to see. Perhaps they were expecting something along the line of a gritty, alien action film, but were given a campy, funny and dark comedy of an alien movie.
The campy nature of the film somehow netted a huge catch of famous and well known actors that is truly impressive, as if they were all in on the joke and what Burton was trying to accomplish. You got famous actors like Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny Devito, Martin Short, Pam Grier, Natalie Portman, and way, way more recognizable faces than is required for this movie. It’s unreal to constantly be like, “hey that’s so and so” which just adds to the fun of this movie. From the stiff acting, funny dialogue, and the alien attack sequences, it’s a big mashup of genre making and science fiction tropes. For a big sci-fi fan like myself, I couldn’t be happier with this movie. Burton needs to do more like this is all I have to say.