This week on the B movie docket is Mars Attacks!
B movies are the glue stuck in between all the other genres, oftentimes refusing to conform to any particular genre presets. Some but not all of the hallmarks of a B movie include scripts that read like they were written by a room full of eighth-graders, poor visual effects, cringe-inducing dialogue, low budget production design, and zany plot contrivances. You’re aware of the hallmarks, right? B movies often reek of amateur flair. Thought you were about to watch a great white shark hunted in dramatic fashion like only Steven Spielberg can deliver? Nope, this is Sharknado.
Why do we love B movies? I think B movies are comforting. You know what you’re about to watch is bad. If you’re fortunate it may be so bad that it’s good. You’ll often scratch your head trying to work out the plot. Out of the many good films you’ve seen, I bet you can talk with more vigor about the worst ones you’ve seen. They’re unforgettable. There’s something comforting about that I think. Besides they’ve been around just as long as the movie industry.
Believe it or not, chances are there’s a B movie for you. So I compiled a list of 50 B movies you must see before you die. No decade is off-limits. No rating is too taboo. For the next 49 weeks, I will introduce and recommend a B movie for your viewing pleasure. Yes, these are exciting times indeed my fanatical friends.
WEEK 20 – Mars Attacks
The director of 1989’s Batman made a B movie in 1996. Yes. This week’s B movie is Mars Attacks! Featuring a star-studded cast, with The Departed’s Jack Nicholson anchoring down a stellar B movie.that is out of this world
Nicholson takes a cue from The Nutty Professor’s Eddie Murphy bringing his A-game to two separate roles. Not only is Jack Nicholson the President of the United States, but he’s also casino magnate Art Land. The rest of the cast is a mouthful, but here goes. We have Back 2 The Futures Michael J Foxx, Moesha’s Ray J, Fatal Attractions Glenn Close, The World Is Not Enough’s Pierce Brosnan, Batman Returns Danny Devito, Inner Space’s Martin Short, Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker, The Big Knife’s Rod Steiger, musician Tom Jones as himself, Zoolander’s Lukas Haas, V For Vendetta’s Natalie Portman, legendary NFL player Jim Brown, The Lords of Salem’s Lisa Marie, and The Terminator’s Paul Winfield. The vast cast of who’s who is rounded out by Tenacious D And The Pick of Destiny’s Jack Black. Oh, and Frank Welker who voiced Megatron in the animated Transformers series provides the voice of the invading Martians. Last but certainly not least is Ms. Foxy herself, Pam Grier.
If that list of actors isn’t enough to get you hyped about Mars Attacks!, then I don’t know what to tell you. I did mention the movie is directed by Batman’s Tim Burton right?
Here’s the synopsis for Mars Attacks!
A fleet of Martian spacecraft surrounds the world’s major cities and all of humanity waits to see if the extraterrestrial visitors have, as they claim, “come in peace.” U.S. President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) receives assurance from science professor Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan) that the Martians’ mission is a friendly one. But when a peaceful exchange ends in the total annihilation of the U.S. Congress, military men call for a full-scale nuclear retaliation.
Tim Burton deftly wrangles the all-star cast of this B movie.
Mars Attacks! starts off with a bang as we receive our first introduction to the Martians via a hilarious interaction in which a small-town farmer asks his Filipino neighbor if he’s celebrating Filipino New Year. Wait, wait, the farmer admittedly has a reason to do so. See, the farmer smells cows roasting. Moments later, a herd of flaming cattle comes scurrying down the farm road. The people of Earth will soon learn they are not alone.
Boy, do these Martians know how to make an entrance. They arrive very much like General Zod and the exiled Kryptonians did in Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. The Martian Ambassador hijacks all of Earth’s communication feeds and broadcasts the message most of humanity has been waiting for: I come in peace, not.
Burton’s effects team strikes the perfect balance between cheesy and well done. In fact, I thought I was watching a stop motion animation. But that was not the case. ILM actually handled the special effects here.
Don’t for a second think that the cast is the only draw to this film though. The Martians manage to nearly upstage the acting on screen. They are hilariously devilish. We don’t even have a clue of what they are saying when they speak, but it suits the film’s tone perfectly.
I sure hope you enjoy Mars Attacks! as much as I did. See you next week!
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