VIDEO: Mars Attacks! (1996)

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On this special Halloween episode of The Lunatic Fringe, Josh talks about a film from Tim Burton’s so called “Golden Age”. Beware the movie with no protagonist! The movie that’s hates its characters with a passion! The movie… known as Mars Attacks!

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  • Liam Barrett

    Mars Attacks is a very spiteful, mean-spirited little movie, but I often find that’s part of it’s charm. I view it as being kind of like Independence Day if it shit itself.

    •  Oh, I know. That’s what I like about it. That’s why I say I just wish it’d taken that all the way and just blown up the earth at the end. I mean, at least part of the movie wants to be Dr. Strangelove anyway.

      • Liam Barrett

        I was expecting the world to blow up all the way through, if I’m honest. I DO get a kick out of Tom Jones literally charming the birds from the trees at the end though, can’t deny. It’s just so legitimately strange.

        • Lauren G

          I think the ending is just another aspect of the parody. It reminds me of the end of Evolution, where the world is saved by shampoo.

  • Alexa

    Hey Beetlejuice, Pee-wee, and Batman are some of his best. I agree with the rest, but maybe its a stretch to call Big Fish his greatest, not to say that its bad but I consider either Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands his greatest. And didn’t you say that Sweeney Todd was worse than Planet of the Apes way back in 2009. Had a change of heart since then or something. 

    •  Beetlejuice & Pee-wee are creative and fun, but nothing outstanding from what I remember. Batman had a great setup but a rather messy last act. I’d say either Big Fish or Ed Wood would be his best (I lean towards Big Fish, because it showed the most growth and willingness to try new things on his part.)

      And yes, I have had a change of heart on a lot of things since then. Evolved as a reviewer, I’d like to think.

      • Alexa

        D’oh I forgot about Ed Wood, now that is one of my favorites, and I will agree when of his greatest. But I would still have to disagree with Beetlejuice not being creative, its a good twist to the whole haunted house motif when you think about it, and Michael Keaton is just amazing in it, and its certainly shows that Burton can make a hilarious movie, well could. 
        And I would take Burton’s Batman, the first Burton Batman at least, over Nolan’s Batman, more having to do with Burton’s film not giving me a raging headache with its pacing, editing, and Bale’s voice. But that’s just me.

        •  I said Beetlejuice WAS creative. And yes, Michael Keaton was good and the movie was entertaining, I just don’t find it particularly engaging.

          • Alexa

            Yeah you did say that didn’t you. Well I’m embarrassed  and apparently I can’t read or write tonight, I guess that tends to happen when you’re near exhaustion and trying to comment. :/

  • John Wilson

    Well with the  environment themes,there was the cows that got zap at the beginning  And the guy who wanted to take over land or something.He got crush by the world. It been a while since I seen this movie. Tim always been kind of a environment guy.

  • Tedzey71

    I loved this movie as a kid! It always bummed me out that Danny DeVito died (but then again, he seemed to be in every movie for that one period in the 90s’ that he kind of became iconic). It was a total shock for me when I discovered that Tim Burton directed it. 

  • Sofie Liv

    Well… this one freaked me out a lot the first time I saw it.
    But gradually as time went past I actually really got to appreciate it more and more, this movie is just so… out there, without compromise, I can’t really mention any movie like it, and it’s hard not to appreciate its excistence for that.

    Burton just is a pretty fascinating figure isn’t it?  

  • Josh Langland

    I -love- Mars Attacks.  It’s a total mess, no doubt.  But god damn is it a fun one. =) 

    • Thomas Stockel

      Agreed.  I had a great time with this film.

  • Delawheredad

    I’m old enough  to remember the trading cards and the controversy they caused. It was the last gasp of the crusade on EC comics. They were EC comic level  artwork and situations and man did they tick parents off! In those days there were baseball cards and a few television based trading cards. The Mars Attacks series  was very popular because kids WANTED  the kind of thrills they used to get from the creepy comics of the early to mid fifties.  They ware attacked on the same grounds and with the same arguments that were used against EC comics.  Time Burton captured the mood. artwork, and tone of the trading cards.  The cards, when assembled numerically, tell a story that ends ambiguously. Burton’s ending is more definitive than the story told by the trading cards which end with the Martians largely triumphant with hints that mankind may ultimately triumph. I suspect that Tim Burton was pressured to have an upbeat ending or, more likely He thought  that the Slim Whitman joke was just too good to pass up.   

  • Sand Ripper

    This was a lame movie. Such a waste of a good cast.

  • constanze

    I liked the movie not only because it was so funny – absurd (changing the head of a vapid woman with her dog etc.) but because it was much better than the standard alien invasion Hollywood style: These martians are really alien, that is, their motives are not easily understandable. They don’t want women, or raw materials (which would be stupid, anyway). They kill people, but don’t come across as wanting to rule earth. They’re alien.

    And it’s not US bad-assery or know-how that saves the day (like in Indepence day and countless others), which is really sickenly boring to non-USians, it’s a mere accident that Tom Jones singing is so catastrophic. In several ways it reminds me not of the trading cards, but of the original novel “War of the World”, where the aliens are mostly brains, have superior firepower and are also felled not because of men, but by a tiny accident (Bacteria) – sure that is biologically not possible, but Wells couldn’t know that and wanted to make a point with the way the Western conquerors acted when colonizing natives. Humans are helpless against the advanced firepower, and that’s rare in Hollywood. Most movies have a plucky hero solve things with a big gun.

    You say the aliens should have won. But making the win accidental serves the same end – the humans don’t actually win, they must live with the knowledge of being puny and inferior, while most of civilisation has been destroyed (at least there are no rotting bodies lying around, since everything’s been vaporized or exploded).

    If the aliens had won and killed all humans, the plot would just stop – there’s nothing for the aliens left to do. And that would be boring in a story.