The world is taken by surprise when Martians land on Earth and prove not to be good-will ambassadors, but a wholly malevolent and destructive force. Think of Beavis and Butt-Head but armed and you’re not far off the computer-generated little green antichrists in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!
Burton’s joy is contagious as he uses a $70 million budget to spoof cheapo 1950s alien flicks. When scientist Pierce Brosnan speaks of Martian “advanced technology,” Burton shows us crude flying saucers that would shame Ed Wood.
Although the President of the United States, James Dale (Jack Nicholson) again and again attempts to forge a peace with the alien invaders over the objections of his top General, Decker (Rod Steiger), the Martians persist in their all-out war on humanity.
“Kick the crud out of them,” screams first lady Glenn Close, and finally, it is up to a shy teenage boy in Kansas, Richie Norris (Lukas Haas), to locate the unlikely key to destroying the aliens – his grandmother’s Slim Whitman records!
Once broadcast across the airwaves the strange Slim Whitman performances pulp Martian brains and end the invasion of Earth once and for all. And any film that ends with Tom Jones breaking into a rendition of It’s Not Unusual is OK by us!
Mars Attacks! was based on Topps’ popular trading card line from 1962 which featured fifty colourful cards depicting Earth’s invasion by nefarious, big-brained Martians. The film goes to great lengths to accurately capture the pulpy vibe of the set – even visually aping a few of the more notable, specific cards.
Cards such as “Burning Cattle,” “The Shrink Ray” and “Robot Terror” are all staged directly as action sequences in the film. The card “Burning Flesh” reveals the full disgusting impact of advanced Martian weaponry on the human body; a perspective which is repeated (on Jack Black) in the film during the Martians’ first landing in Nevada.
President James Dale/Art Land
Sarah Jessica Parker
Michael J. Fox
Billy Glenn Norris
Joe Don Baker
Sue Ann Norris
Chi Hoang Cai