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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mars Attacks! (1996)

A fleet of flying saucers from Mars surround the Earth. The President of the United States (Jack Nicholson) sends one of his Generals (Paul Winfield) as an ambassador to greet the Martians but instead of a peaceful reception, the hostile Martians begin to annihilate the population. This wacky and often witty comedic homage to 1950s sci-fi such as DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS inexplicably received a hostile reception when it was first released. It had the misfortune to follow INDEPENDENCE DAY which had a similar premise but took matters far more seriously. But time has validated Tim Burton's wonky but affectionate send up and it holds up better than INDEPENDENCE DAY. Based on a series of trading cards (is that a first for a movie?), the film is abetted by Danny Elfman's energetic score which pays tribute to Bernard Herrmann's score to DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. The massive cast includes Natalie Portman, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan (doing a spot on Fred MacMurray impersonation), Annette Bening, Rod Steiger, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jim Brown, Michael J. Fox, Jack Black, Pam Grier, Lukas Haas, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sylvia Sidney, Tom Jones, Joe Don Baker and Christina Applegate.

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