Mars Attacks! (1996)



Critic 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.

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Movie Info

This quirky science fiction comedy is a characteristic feature by iconoclastic director Tim Burton, known to moviegoers for Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The storyline affectionately harkens back to the deadpan sincerity of such '50s and '60s science-fiction films as The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds. Flying saucers have been reliably seen over the capitals of the world, and the whole world awaits with bated breath to see what will transpire. Among those waiting is the President of the United States (Jack Nicholson), who is assured by his science advisor (Pierce Brosnan) that the coming aliens are utterly peaceful. This advice is hotly contested by the military (led by Rod Steiger), who advices the President to annihilate them. When the aliens land, they are seen to be green, garish, and very cheerful. But appearances prove deceiving when the "friendly" aliens abruptly disintegrate the entire U.S. Congress. Hollywood notables appear in vast quantities in roles (and sub-plots) of all sizes in this zany feature. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi
PG-13 (For sci-fi fantasy violence and brief sexuality.)
Action & Adventure , Comedy , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video

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Jack Nicholson
as President Dale/Art Land
Glenn Close
as Marshal Dale
Annette Bening
as Barbara Land
Pierce Brosnan
as Donald Kessler
Martin Short
as Jerry Ross
Sarah Jessica Parker
as Nathalie Lake
Michael J. Fox
as Jason Stone
Rod Steiger
as Gen. Decker
Lukas Haas
as Richie Norris
Natalie Portman
as Taffy Dale
Jim Brown
as Byron Williams
Tom Jones
as Himself
Lisa Marie
as Martian Girl
Sylvia Sidney
as Grandma Norris
Paul Winfield
as General Casey
Pam Grier
as Louise Williams
Danny DeVito
as Rude Gambler
Jack Black
as Billy Glenn Norris
Ray J
as Cedric
Joe Don Baker
as Glenn Norris
O-Lan Jones
as Sue Ann Norris
Brian Haley
as Mitch
Jerzy Skolimowski
as Doctor Zeigler
Timi Prulhiere
as Tour Guide
Barbet Schroeder
as French President
Chi Hoang Cai
as Mr. Lee
Tommy Bush
as Hillbilly
Joseph Maher
as Decorator
Willie Garson
as Corporate Guy
John Roselius
as GNN Boss
Michael Reilly Burke
as GNN Reporter
Valerie Wildman
as GNN Reporter
Richard Irving
as GNN Reporter
Jonathan Emerson
as Newscaster
Vinny Argiro
as Casino Manager
Steve Valentine
as TV Director
Coco Leigh
as Female Journalist
Jeffrey King
as NASA Technician
Enrique J. Castillo
as Hispanic Colonel
Don Lamoth
as 2nd Colonel
C. Wayne Owens
as Stranger
Roger Peterson
as Colonel
John Finnegan
as Speaker of the House
Ed Lambert
as Morose Old Guy
John Gray
as Incredibly Old Guy
Gregg L. Daniel
as Lab Technician
Jeanne Mori
as Doctor
Rance Howard
as Texan Investor
Richard Assad
as Saudi Investor
Velletta Carlson
as Elderly Slots Woman
Kevin Mangan
as Trailer Lover
Rebeca Silva
as Hispanic Woman
Juian Barnes
as White House Waiter
Ken Thomas
as White House Photographer
Darelle Porter Holden
as Tom Jones Backup Singer
Christi Black
as Tom Jones Backup Singer
Sharon Hendrix
as Tom Jones Backup Singer
as Poppy
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Critic Reviews for Mars Attacks!

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (16)

Perhaps they don't create quite enough deeply funny earthlings to go around, but a thoroughly meanspirited big-budget movie is always a treasurable rarity.

Full Review… | August 25, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

oaded with wit, nifty little ideas and an extraordinary sense of design, but its allure is of quite a particular nature, much closer to that of Ed Wood than of Burton's earlier, and far more commercially successful, works.

Full Review… | August 25, 2008
Top Critic

Unfortunately, it's not very good.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Just a parade of scattershot gags, more often weird than funny and most often just flat.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Only moderately amusing.

Full Review… | October 28, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

Hilarity never seemed so tedious.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mars Attacks!


Yaaa-hooo! Now here's a alien movie for ya, yessiree! Burton's half-tribute, half nudge in the ribs to the old sci-fi of the 1950's not only does well, it surpasses it's subject matter and most of the current day items of the same ilk. Still crazy as well after all these years. Howzit get only a 52% on the damned tomatometer?!? Who are these mongoloids?

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer


This may be one of Tim Burton's more underrated and lesser films, but this zany homage to cheesy 50s alien invader films is nonetheless very well done, hugely entertaining, and a whole lot of gleefully campy fun. It's actually rather dark and a little gruesome (this is a Burton film overall), but it comes across as kind of shocking since it is supposed to be a tribute film. The spirit of the old stuff remains, just in a revamped and glossy form better fit for the 90s. Still though, there's a lot of good gags, and the overall look and special effects are just awesome. As a bonus, they still hold up pretty nicely, too. The star studded cast is pretty awesome, and they generally do a good job, and it's clear they're having a lot of fun and not taking themselves too seriously, and that's a good thing. Probably the best part of the cast for me, besides the inclusion of two blaxploitation stars, is the inclusion of the voice of Slim Whitman, which is used to great effect in a wonderfully inspired solution to the problem of the invading aliens. All in all, a fun movie I definitely recommend.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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