Mars Attacks! 1996

Mars Attacks!

Critics Consensus

Tim Burton's alien invasion spoof faithfully recreates the wooden characters and schlocky story of cheesy '50s sci-fi and Ed Wood movies -- perhaps a little too faithfully for audiences.

54%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 83

53%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 436,482

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Movie Info

A fleet of Martian spacecraft surrounds the world's major cities and all of humanity waits to see if the extraterrestrial visitors have, as they claim, "come in peace." U.S. President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) receives assurance from science professor Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan) that the Martians' mission is a friendly one. But when a peaceful exchange ends in the total annihilation of the U.S. Congress, military men call for a full-scale nuclear retaliation.

Cast & Crew

Jack Nicholson
President James Dale, Art Land
Glenn Close
First Lady Marsha Dale
Annette Bening
Barbara Land
Pierce Brosnan
Professor Donald Kessler
Danny DeVito
Rude Gambler
Martin Short
Press Secretary Jerry Ross
Rod Steiger
General Decker
Woody Gelman
Writer
Bob Powell
Writer
Norman Saunders
Writer
Danny Elfman
Original Music
Peter Suschitzky
Cinematographer
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Critic Reviews for Mars Attacks!

All Critics (83) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (38)

Audience Reviews for Mars Attacks!

  • Aug 28, 2020
    Tim Burton is often known for his off-beat, gothic approach to storytelling so it came as somewhat of a surprise when he delivered Mars Attacks! in 1996. It was a colourful and energetic homage to the B-movie, sci-fi's of the 50's and looked very much like a change of pace for him. Sadly, it wasn't entirely well received and, if truth be told, I shared this criticism at the time. However, on a reappraisal, Mars Attacks! is actually a lot of fun and time has certainly been kind to it. Burton is in full command of his send-up of the science fiction yarns of old and, despite the silliness of the whole affair, he injects it with the requisite playfulness that the material requires. Added to which, he assembles an impressive cast who all seem up for the joke and fully aware of the ridiculousness their involved in.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2016
    Tim Burton doesn't usually delve into the Sci-Fi realm of filmmaking, so Mars Attacks seemed like a good deviation for him while still maintaining his style. Burton certainly does that, with sometimes satisfying and always ridiculous results. One thing it undeniably has is an unbelievable cast. Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Short, and Danny Devito star in this insane sci-fi romp. And that's just to name a few. In some ways, this is Tim Burton's Independence Day. The story is structured in a similar way with an ensemble cast sharing the load with interweaving stories. The aliens have similar intentions but with a slightly more comedic approach and horrific special effects. I was not on board with this film for the first 45 minutes. There were far too many characters to keep track of and I didn't really feel connected to them anyway. The film also seemed to be taking itself way too seriously. But once the aliens reach Washington D.C., it turns into a completely different film altogether. So in one hand, it's an uneven directing job from Burton. But on the other hand, the change of tone midway through kind of adds to the ridiculousness of the whole thing. Either way, I enjoyed my time with this sci-fi romp. Overall, it's a charming little sci-fi project from Burton, and we haven't really gotten one of those from him since. Although the budget skyrocketed to 70 million, which is a lot for the 90's, the story feels more personal and smaller scale than the similar Independence Day. The effects are brutal and would have been better off using stop motion like Burton had originally planned. But all of this pretty much leads to a harmlessly entertaining comedy that hits more often than not. +Tonal change helps +Cast +Ridiculous -Don't really care about all the characters 6.8/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 01, 2015
    A cult classic now which has still aged well in terms of plot and humour.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 12, 2014
    Unbelievably awful, Mars Attacks! is a sci-fi satire from director Tim Burton. It's tragic how much talent is wasted on this crap; Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, and Natalie Portman, just to name a few in this huge ensemble cast. Burton is clearly trying to homage '50s sci-fi B-movies, but he goes way over the top with it. And, the comedy is so goofball and slapstick-ish that it becomes mind numbing. An abysmal failure, Mars Attacks! is a mass of stupidity that doesn't deliver any laughs.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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