STARRING: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny De Vito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Christina Applegate, Joe Don Baker, Pam Grier, Paul Winfield, Jack Black, O-Lan Jones, Barbet Schroeder

1996, 105 Minutes, Directed by: Tim Burton

While Mars Attacks! may not have been as good as it could have been, it is definitely one of the better sci-fi flicks to have headed our way in quite a while.

It is particularly disappointing when one considers that it is, after all, made by Tim Burton (who made such off-beat and original movies such as Beetlejuice, the original Batman and Edward Scissorhands).

Still, this affectionate spoof/homage of/to1950s alien invasion films is a welcome antidote to the nauseating feel good sentiments of Independence Day.

What Independence Day took seriously, Burton's film simply blasts away straight into orbit! No wonder the film bombed in the States - it asks us the pertinent question that if Martians cannot survive American culture, then how are we mere humans supposed to fare? (How the Earthlings get rid of the Martians is a pure comic gem of Burton's feverish imagination - and worth the price of admission alone! No, I won't spoil it all by telling . . . )

However, the problem with Mars Attacks! is that the scenes with the humans are boring and dull. They seem to be taken from a different movie - a straight-forward dramatic account of an alien invasion - while one is left waiting for the Martians to wreak havoc. These scenes could have done with some spicing up and better editing - no wonder some people complained that the film was too long!

Fortunately things come alive when the Martians tries to squash some boy scouts, burns down an old age home, nukes Danny De Vito and toasts a peace dove amongst others.

Black-humoured stuff indeed - and not everybody's cup of tea I suppose. Yet these scenes are deliciously funny. Besides, any film that features a herd of flaming cattle, Tom Jones (yes!) and large dosages of Slim Whitman simply has to be seen!



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