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Mars Attacks!
1996 - PG13 - Mins.
Director: Tim Burton
Producer: Larry J. Franco, Tim Burton
Written By: Jonathan Gems
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Jones, Natalie Portman
Review by: Jennie Kermode
   
Based on the popular American trading card series, the theme of 'Mars Attacks!' is simple and delightful - little green men with enormous brains arrive from outer space in shiny flying saucers and proceed to run riot across the Earth, wreaking havoc with their water-pistol style ray guns. Why? Because it's fun. You only need to watch the movie to see that.

For these are the 'Beavis and Butthead' boys of the alien universe, and they want to cause big explosions and toast hippies, fry grannies and fit in the time for a bit of novelty head swapping along the way, just for a laugh. Observed to be without genetalia, they are stuck in a permanent adolescence; but it takes more than all the combined forces of the US government to stop them.

Slow in starting, this is a film which nevertheless really does have its moments, and isn't afraid to be ruthless with its star-studden cast, providing more genuine shocks than the average Hollywood film. Although it fails to live up to its own potential, it still puts Independence Day to shame, and comes as a welcome relief from that overdose of patriotism. It is unashamedly a B-movie. Its very brazenness is often its most charming quality.

The film is also daring enough to present Tom Jones as an action hero - he plays himself - and the camp spectacle of the Welsh knicker-catcher fleeing the aliens to save women and fluffy animals is played out for all its worth.

While this is by no means among Burton's best work, looking overedited and messy with too many characters for its flimsy script, it nevertheless has the potential for an entertaining night out. In those moments where Burton's own inimitable style takes over there is rich dark comedy, some spectacular gadgetry and a number of wildly imaginative deaths, plus subtle references to science fiction movies old and new which make this a movie to watch closely. It's a shame that the whole piece seems to have been compromised by the studio system; where it ought to have zapped, all it can manage is pow!
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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