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Mars Attacks!

Earth's in peril, yet again, and the US President must call the shots. This time, though, we're rooting for the space invaders. Tim Burton's film is the most subversive big-budget Hollywood production in years, a splenetic satire which gleefully trashes contemporary culture - politics, science and religion, the army, TV, food, music, even money. Unfortunately, it's not very good. The tacky design undoubtedly cost a fortune, and there's a real perversity in casting superstars to ham it up in homage to Ed Wood. The anarchy is sometimes inspired (Burton incinerates Congress, movie stars and doves with equal abandon - he loves playing Godzilla), but much of the film is flat and cripplingly indulgent. It feels nearly half an hour too long, and Nicholson, in a double role, is just too much. It's a personal work, but not a mature one. It didn't hit home at the US box-office, but the reviews have been surprisingly accommodating. In that sense, this sour, prefabricated cult movie has the last laugh - and I'm afraid the joke's on us.

Release details

Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriter: Jonathan Gems
Cast: Rod Steiger
Jack Nicholson
Jerzy Skolimowski
Barbet Schroeder
Pam Grier
Sylvia Sidney
Martin Short
Glenn Close
Paul Winfield
Pierce Brosnan
Annette Bening
Joe Don Baker
Lukas Haas
Michael J Fox
Sarah Jessica Parker
Danny DeVito
Tom Jones