Saturday, May 25, 2019

Little Green Men

This is my second entry in the Great Villain Blogathon hosted by Silver Screenings, Speakeasy and Shadows and Satin.

It's no wonder Martians are always trying to invade the Earth.  We Earthlings have a greener more hospitable planet conducive to life.  We have resources out the wazoo for making life more comfortable.  And we are definitely in a warmer space zone.  Which everyone and their brother seems to want.

But also it might be because they have an inferiority complex.  Most of them are as ugly as sin, which probably makes date night at the local Martian singles bar a pain in the ass.

Even I could get a date compared to those mugs.

Tim Burton must have had a long list of "favors" in order to garner the cast he got for this movie.  The long list of names above the title include such luminaries as Jack Nicholson, Rod Steiger, Glenn Close, Annette Benning, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Martin Short and Danny DeVito.  It also includes Natalie Portman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lukas Haas, Jim Brown, Pam Grier and, believe it or not, Tom Jones.

Mars Attacks! (1996):

When the Martians finally decide to come to Earth (although God only knows why they would really WANT to), I only hope we are more prepared to meet them than the Earthlings of this movie.   An indecisive President James Dale (Jack Nicholson in one of two roles) can't decide whether to approach the oncoming entourage of Martians with trepidation or with enthusiasm.

Even with advisers like the renowned scientist, Professor Kessler (Pierce Brosnan) urging that they must be coming in peace because, after all, truly intelligent races are not warlike (...are we, Earthlings?  Earthlings...?  Anybody there?  Is this thing on?).

Or General Decker (Rod Steiger) who urges to be wary of them because they are coming in droves and must therefore have nefarious purposes in mind.

Dale's Press Secretary, Jerry Ross (Martin Short) has only the President's popularity in mind, so he can't be counted on to give an opinion that doesn't involve the bottom line of how the President will appear to the people.

And Dale's wife, First Lady Marsha Dale (Glenn Close) is only concerned with how it will look if she is seen with such ugly specimens of interstellar life forms.  Especially if she has to serve them on the Van Buren china.

Meanwhile in the real world (or as real as it gets in Tim Burton's reality), the common people deal with the inevitable realization that we are not the only life in the universe.  In Las Vegas, Art Land (Jack Nicholson again) deals with how he can make a profit off of the coming Martians, while his wife, Barbara (Annette Benning), a new age recovering alcoholic is ecstatic with the idea of how life will improve with the coming of an enlightened race.

In a remote BFE part of the country, Billy-Ray (Jack Black) prepares to be a part of the armed forces who will be present to greet the aliens in Nevada. While his little brother, Richie (Lukas Haas) and the rest of the family send him off.  Billy-Ray and Richie's grandmother, Florence (Sylvia Sidney) is only concerned with getting back to the nursing home and her collection of Slim Whitman records.

Back in Las Vegas, Nathalie Lake (Sarah Jessica Parker), the host of a cable fashion show, finds herself at the front of the pack when she lands an interview with Professor Kessler, despite her boyfriend Jason Stone's (Michael J. Fox) insistence that he and his legitimate news network should be given this plum job.

And former boxing superstar, (now just a glorified bouncer and attraction at one of the gambling casinos), Byron Williams (Jim Brown) is dealing with a less than accommodating boss as well as his estranged wife, Louise (Pam Grier) who is having problems of her own trying to raise their two boys.

Into this mix, bring on the Martians.  When the Martians declare they "come in peace", the hippies in the crowd release a dove, which the Martians incinerate.  And then lay waste to the assembled crowd.  Giving lie, it would seem, that they came in peace...don'tcha think?

But the ever positive crowd behind President Dale insist that the Martians may have just misread the dove factor, that maybe to the Martians a dove meant war.  So what does Dale do?  He invites the Martian ambassador and his coterie to appear before Congress.  Which the Martians waste with gusto.

President Dale: "I want the people to know they still have 2 out of 3 branches of the government working for them, and that ain't bad."

The Martians have everything going for them.  If you've seen War of the Worlds or Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, you know that alien technology almost always trumps whatever feeble attempts the earthlings can pull out of their proverbial pockets.  (Can't we all just get along...?)

But just when it seems like we might all have to die (or at least learn how to say "Yassuh, Massa!" in Martian), the bizarre wit of Tim Burton comes into play.  How the Martians are defeated is well worth sitting through this film. If that sounds as a bit like the film is a drag before the ending comes, it's not.  This is one of Burton's funniest films and is cool on so many levels.  The CGI Martians not the least of them.

But just when you think the nightmare is over, along comes Tom Jones, crawling out of a cave to sing "It's Not Unusual"...  (Hey, I warned you Tom Jones was in this thing at the beginning...)

Well, folks, time to head home.  The world is safe once again from those disgusting Martians.  Now if someone could just do something about all those politicians...  Drive safely, folks.



  1. This film is so strange, I can't decide if I like it or not. However, I love the look and style of the film, so there's that.

    This is a great choice for the blogathon – I never would have thought of it. Thanks for joining, because what good is a villain blogathon without alien invaders?

    1. I think its a movie that grows on you. I wasn't very impressed when I saw it the first time, but repeated viewings have made it better in my eye. Thanks for reading.

  2. I have to admit that I enjoyed Mars Attacks! when I first saw it, but since then it as come to be a movie I love. It is such a strange film, with a rather dark sense of humour. And I think Tim Burton did a good job of bringing the old Topps trading card series (which was yanked pretty quickly from store shelves) to life. My only caveat about the film is that I wish he had included the giant insects that had appeared in the original card set!

    1. Burton's twisted mind is something that isn't everyone's cup of tea. But since I have a twisted mind too (vis some of the choices I've posted in the past), I feel a certain affinity for the chap. Thanks for reading.

  3. I've heard of this movie, but I had no idea of all the stars who were in it! (Sylvia Sidney? Oh, my gosh!) I think I may just have to give it a try! Thank you so much for this review!

    1. Hope you watch it. And like it. Thanks for reading.

  4. Definitely a movie that grows on you, you're right, has for me, nice dark fun. Loved your picks and posts, thanks so much for doing more than one!

    1. There are any number of movies that I was ambivalent about on first viewing but thoroughly like after watching more times. Thanks for reading.

  5. This is a very dark and nihilistic comedy, but so well done by Burton and his all star cast. Too bad they all get vaporized in such gory fashion!
    A perfect midnite drive in classic and another great article, Quiggy!
    - C

    1. The only thing that could have made this movie even better is if Kevin Costner had been in it and got vaporized in the first 3 minutes of the film... :-D Thanks for reading.


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