Mars Attacks! The starstudded 1996 sci-fi, directed by Tim Burton and written by Jonathan Gems, was based on an at-time popular trading card series. It’s the story of martians making contact with Earth, based on the name, you probably already know it’s going to go south.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
US President James Dale ( Jack Nicholson ) is informed about the existance of aliens. His team, including General Decker ( Rod Steiger ) and Professor Donald Kessler ( Pierce Brosnan ) debate on wether or not to reveal this discovery to the world. The General thinking only those who absolutely need to know should know, the Professor on the other hand, believes that such a technologically advanced civilization should be peaceful by definition. The President reveals aliens in a calm speech on live television, but not before Jason Stone ( Michael J. Fox ) acts all confused about it, because their interrupting the regularly scheduled program. Also, Jack Nicholson plays Vegas business owner ‘Art Land’ a corrupt man, wishing to open up hotels for aliens. His appearence weirdly resembling Joe Exotic.
Also, the President’s wife and daughter are Glenn Close and Natalie Portman. Yeah, see what I mean by starstudded yet? Because it keeps going. Then, there’s a subplot where Bryon Williams ( Jim Brown ), who I honestly mistook for Ving Rhames for his first few scenes. His two sons have gone missing, so his wife, Louise ( Pam Grier ) while he’s in Vegas with Tom Jones, playing himself and a character litlerally refered to as ‘Rude Gambler’ ( Danny DeVito ). Btw, the Pam Grier looking for her sons thing has aporximately ZERO impact on the overall plot in any way.
The time has come where the aliens have officially made contact with the humans, landing in the Nevada Desert, on the ground are a horde of news reporters from all over the country, including Michael J. Fox and Nathalie Lake, as well as countless soldiers, including Billy-Glenn Norris ( Jack Black ). The humans communicate with the aliens ( voiced by Frank Welker (Fred from Scooby Doo )), they claim to have come in peace, then a dove flies close to them, They shoot it down, now it’s all out war! The humans are at an overall loss. Michael J. Fox and Jack Black die.
Pierce Brosnan and Nathalie Lake are abducted by the aliens, performing strange experiments on their heads. Meanwhile, President Nicholson works on a way to reestablish contact with the aliens, hoping it was a cultural misunderstanding. They invite a group of aliens to the White House. Once again, attacking. The First Lady and as far as we know, all of Congress die basically instantly.
The President goes off to a room by himself, the Martian Emperor and his guards finding him. He begs the Martians to be rational, to allow their two species to coexist and learn from one another. The aliens agree. Shaking hands. Only for his hand to detatch, crawl onto Jack Nicholson’s back and kill him.
During the White House invasion, the Martians have also invaded Las Vegas. Tom Jones, Danny DeVito and the other Vegas crew try to escape Las Vegas. DeVito getting killed in the process. After finding a plane and a large group of Martians, Bryson Williams stays behind to fight the aliens, sacrificing himself so the others can leave safely.
Richie Norris ( Lukas Haas ), brother of Jack Black’s character, who’s character so far has been fairly irrelevant, saves his Grandma from the aliens. During the rescue, she listens to a certain song, which causes the alien’s heads to explode. They take their record player to a radio station, which apparently is getting played all over the country or maybe even world. It literally stops the entire alien invasion. Even the aliens in their spaceships were apparently listening to that radio station, but as long as you can suspend you disbelief enough, it works ( the movie probably wasn’t meant to be taken that seriously anyway ).
Afterwards, Richie is invited to the now destroyed White House to give a speech. He’s presented with a metal of honor by the daughter of the President, Natalie Portman. The end.
Mars Attacks! felt almost like a bizarre adaptation of the Destroy All Humans video game ( even though that movie came out almost a decade later ). It carried a very simular style to other alien movies of the time period, like Independence Day and Men in Black, just with a much different tone. Hell, I though the actor that played Richie Norris was actually the same character as the one boy from Independence Day, the one with the checkered jacket ( you know who I mean ).
Many of the characters, even those played by big name actors, like Jack Black and Danny DeVito, have little to no effects on the plot, as well as very low screen time. I find the character deaths were also done without real care. Most likely because these characters, for the most part felt like generic stereotypes. The aliens themselves and their weaponry were cleary meant to look/ be goofy. The other main flaw of the movie is how oversized the cast is,a very good cast including some of my personal favorite actors and actresses, yes, but at the same time it takes away a fair bit of momentum and sense of story from the movie, Despite all this, it was well acted, for the most part well paced and was a lot better then most other movies that come out these days. Overall, I’d give this film an 7/10
PS, happy birthday to Salma Hayek