Mars attacks!

Tim Robbins gives great brain massage. At first it looks like Ed Wood's saucers are about to go on a "rampage" again, but something more wicked this way comes. The little fellas with the green cauliflower heads get zapped like something out of H.G.'s worst nightmare, whether or not he was no longer around before the bubble-gum cards came out. Dr. Strangelove goes full-color while these images only hinted at in earlier days by William Cameron Menzies show just how elusive puppy love can be. Yes, it's good, and if you can't figure out what I'm talking about, go see it for yourself. All Tim Robbins films should be issued with A MUST SEE certificate.

Everybody who's anybody's here. From Jack Nicholson to Glenn Close to Pierce Brosnan to Annette Bening to Danny Devito to Martin Short to Sarah Jessica Parker to Michael J. Fox to Rod Steiger to Tom Jones to Natalie Portman to Jim Brown to Sylvia Sidney. Did I leave anybody out? Oh, yeah, nice touch sticking Lukas Hass into the middle of it all (although it might have been fun with Henry Thomas as well). And isn't Lisa Marie fabulous! Let's face it, if you're gonna' get zapped...

The Martians are coming! The Martians are coming! (And not quite in the way that Orson envisioned.) Let's face it, if they intend to take over the planet (or at least the States) then they're gonna' have to cover a lot of a territory. That means travel time, folks, whether you're in a spaceship or a pick-up truck, so get ready for a Panorama Americana. In Washington, D.C., we have the first family (sans Alzheimer's, but with bumbling) as portrayed by Nicholson, Close and Portman. Alongside them, assisting in decision making are the inane scientist Donald Kessler (Brosnan) and ineffectual General Decker (Steiger). Media anchors in full competition on location in Arizona are the global news rep (Fox) and the stylish fashion show presenter (Parker). In Las Vegas, we encounter the slick and sleazy Art Land (Nicholson) with his equally attractive wife (Bening) while getting a glimpse of the "Rude Gambler" (DeVito). The Martians are even perky enough to perform on stage with Tom Jones before chasing him through the casino. In the middle of the American Heartland, Richie Norris (Haas) gets his donut blown away by the little green men. The world inhabited by these characters is so hilarious, hysterical, and utterly mad that it's amazing that anyone would want to possess it. Attack it, maybe; possess it, no. Burton is so outrageous; no wonder everyone wants to work with him. (During the planning phase, when Robbins approached Nicholson, with whom he had previously collaborated on Batman, and asked him which part he would like to play, the old Joker naturally responded, "How 'bout all of them?" As it turns out, he settled for two.)

With so many stars getting zapped and so many Martians zapping, who knows who's gonna disappear from the screen next? Which brings up the constant stars, those odd little guys with the great big eyes supervised by ILM's Jim Mitchell and Warner's Michael Fink. Yes, it's all here, 120 shots of global destruction, airborne saucer sequences, and Martians landing in the desert. Who could ask for anything more? Zap. Zap.

Unfortunately American box office returns have been less than one would imagine, expect, or hope, most likely due to many people expecting something in a similar vein to Independence Day. Foolish Earthlings, you don't know what you're missing. Could it be that this will only be recognized for the spaced-out comedy it is by a future cult audience or other intelligent life form?

Everyone involved with this production deserves, as usual with a Tim Burton show, superb points, so it's pointless to begin naming everyone here. If, however, you're hungry for all the details, check 'em out on the website for Mars Attacks @ www.warnerbros.com. Happy landing.


© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett