21
May
14

Mars Attacks! (1996)

It can be hard for a film to overcome its initial reception. It’s been nearly twenty years since Tim

President Nicholson

President Nicholson

Burton’s Mars Attacks! was released, and all this time I’d never watched it, just remembering folks said it was “pretty terrible.”

Why in the world did I ever listen to what “folks” say? “Folks” don’t know jack. “Folks” tend to like the new Godzilla movie. Shows you what “folks” know. And yet the resounding voice of a thousand idiots can still be difficult to shake off, even decades later. But I’m glad I finally sat down to watch Mars Attacks!, because, folks, it is delightful.

The plot is simple: martians land on the earth and, despite the naive human hope they have good intentions, proceed to incinerate everyone and everything they can get their beams on. Even our charming American president (Jack Nicholson) can’t seem to get them to listen to reason. It’s going to take a lot more than

Pieces of Pierce

Pieces of Pierce

clever speeches to get them to back off. A little Slim Whitman, perhaps?

This movie is basically every ridiculous mid-century science-fiction movie rolled into one and pumped up on steroids. This of course makes perfect sense given the fact that Burton had just made Ed Wood two years beforehand. Perhaps these naysayers were expecting a serious, sappy, romantic epic drama like Independence Day, and who could blame them – that piece of crap was released just months before Mars Attacks!. But really I think the problem is people don’t get jokes. Or are jokes too obviously low-brow for them? Do people go for the “serious” drama because they think it makes them look smarter, as my husband suggested after the aforementioned dreadful debacle Godzilla?

Best Grandma ever.

Best Grandma ever.

I was so surprised that this was actually a competent, amusing and fun film. I really wanted to understand why people didn’t like it. So I watched the trailers, thinking maybe they made the movie look more like Independence Day than it actually is. And the answer is no, they didn’t. Could it be that people don’t even pay attention to the two minutes they’re expected to in a movie trailer? I guess the final answer is: who cares. Their loss. After years of watching movies and never understanding why the masses like one thing but pan another, I should probably just finally admit that I’ll never get it. I am more than okay with that. I hope you are too. I hope that’s why you’re here!

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