Tuesday, 28 April 2009

MARS ATTACKS: Tim Burton’s flawed pulp classic

When it comes to visuals that leave a lasting impression, there is little in the modern cinema era that match up to the films of Tim Burton. Whether it’s Johhny Depp’s mad turn as Edward Scissorhands or, erm, Johhny Depp as Willy Wonka, Tim Burton’s movies have a visual style and language all of their own. Before every film he made had Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in starring roles, Tim Burton was responsible for Mars Attacks, a loveable yet flawed tribute to the classic era of Pulp SF and genre cinema.

With a hugely impressive cast and some eyepopping effects, Mars attacks is one of the most entertaining films of the 1990s, that most annoying of decades.

Mars Attacks features such sheer visual inventiveness that it is hard not to get swept away by it., This is probably a good thing, as the plot is paper thin and the acting (despite the pedigree of the cast), is far from perfect. The CGI had certainly dated since the movie was released, and looks even cheaper than it was intended to in the first place now, but you can still get a kick out of seeing bubble-headed aliens zapping people left right and center. You really can’t go wrong with people getting zapped, can you?

Mars Attacks is a curio now. Not one of Tim Burton’s most remembered or appreciated films, it was a huge hit at the time and was also very popular on Video (and latterly DVD) following its release. Definitely flawed but a ton of fun, Mars Attacks deserves a well-earned repeat viewing.

While you’re at it, you could follow up on Mars Attacks by sticking Galaxy Quest on after it. With movies like Fanboys, Free Enterprise and so on bringing the Geek manifesto to the masses in recent years, it’d be cool to go and check out this spoof SF gem from 1998. Thanks to the awesome cast headed up by Sigourney Weaver, Tim Allen and Alan Rickman, its cheesy (but oh so true) stabs at Star Trek and SF fan culture hit close to home, and are still hilarious.

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