One of Tim Burton’s more overlooked films, Mars Attacks! was a financial disaster in the United States, and only just managed to make back it’s budget due to it’s popularity in Europe. When compared to other Tim Burton films from the 1990’s such as Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns and Sleepy Hollow it didn’t achieve anywhere near the success or critical approval that Burton was used to. It is indeed a very strange little film that’s a comedic throwback to the science fiction B-movies of the 1950’s. With an unbelievably stellar cast list, it is cram packed with Hollywood stars.
Featuring (amongst others) Jack Nicholson, Glen Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, Tom Jones, Natalie Portman and Jack Black, it’s quite staggering how a film featuring 3 Oscar winners and 6 Oscar nominees was such a flop.
Perhaps the general concept of a sci-fi B-movie parody just didn’t click with American audiences? I remember seeing the film when it was first released. I was 11 years old at the time and it’s always stuck with me. Mainly because I was genuinely creeped out. In typical Burton fashion the dark humour in the film is actually (for a kid) rather twisted. In retrospect it’s one of the reasons I really like the movie. Compared with other sci-fi comedies of the time, Men in Black, Galaxy Quest, Evolution etc Mars Attacks! is just that little bit darker, weirder, creepier and outrageously funnier.