Mars Attacks! – Blu-ray Review

Before Tim Burton got stuck in his remake/adaptation slump, he used to actually make really good and interesting films. One of his early adaptations was actually a first (as far as I know). Mars Attacks! is an adaptation of a 1950s trading card series. And in my opinion, it is one of Burton’s most underrated films.

Following the classic disaster film set up, the film follows the lives of several characters throughout the U.S. during an alien invasion. Overflowing with big names the film offers the veteran talents of Jack Nicholson (in two roles!), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, and Joe Don Baker. There are also some great young talent in the film that would go on to become big names including Natalie Portman, Jack Black, Lukas Haas and even Christina Applegate in a very tiny role.  Whew….. I’m exhausted just from listing all those names.

By all means, Mars Attacks! is a very silly film, and maybe that’s most people don’t like about it, but to me, that’s what makes it so great. I love the idea of the president attempting to come at the Martians from every peaceful way possible even after thousands of humans are killed. The characters in the film may not be that well developed, but all the actors do great jobs with their roles. You very quickly know which characters to like and dislike.

The scene where the Martians are killing everyone insight while using the translating machine to shout, “We come in peace,” is one of the funniest scenes Tim Burton has ever done. Besides, how many films have lines like: “They blew up Congress! Hahahahaha!” Through the whole film it really has fun with the violence, like dropping the Washington Monument on a bunch of boy scouts.

The animated aliens still look great, even by today’s standards, in fact I’d even go so far as to say the CGI here is better than lots of the films I’ve seen lately.

Mars Attacks! isn’t Burton’s best, nor is it perfect, but I find it to be a very funny entertaining movie that doesn’t get stale with multiple repeat viewings.

Mars Attacks! is presented in anamorphic widescreen 2.40:1 and Dolby Digital DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound. There are a lot of vibrant greens and reds in this film and they really pop on Blu-Ray. The whole film looks and sounds fantastic, though some of the score was a little loud in places and I found myself adjusting the volume throughout. This disc also has more language and subtitle options than I ever seen.

There really wasn’t much in the way of special features on the original DVD, but sadly this Blu-ray has even less. Not even an original trailer. I think a film like this really could use a making of. Perhaps someday the studio will think it’s worthy of the time.

This is a fantastic middle period film for Burton and I enjoy watching it over and over again. This Blu-ray edition makes the film look better than ever. Sadly, there are no special features. If you’re a Burton fan this is an upgrade worth making and if you’ve never bought it before, this is the one to get. I’d say hold out for a special edition, but who knows if that will ever happen.

Warner Home Video presents Mars Attacks!. Directed by Tim Burton. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Pam Grier, et al. Written by Jonathan Gems. Based on “Mars Attacks!” trading cards from Topps. Running time: 106 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi fantasy violence and brief sexuality. Released on DVD: September 7, 2010.

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