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Mars Attacks!

Year: 1996
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Tim Burton
Producer: Tim Burton
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Anette Benning, Michael J Fox, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Rod Steiger, Pam Grier, Jim Brown
This was the cheeky little start-up when the huge, corporate Independence Day was going about its business in a very ordered, stage-managed way.

Tim Burton's eye-popping, audacious feast of visual comedy threatened to steal all the thunder away from Fox's Roland Emmerich-directed behemoth by being far cheekier, far funnier and from further out of left field.

It's a simple story; a race of beings from Mars decides to attack Earth and our forces mount a clumsy defence that ranges from nuclear weapons to bad music.

The magic here is in the casting and the free-for-all dialogue, ideas and approach. It was a grab-bag of stars and personalities, all of them distinct and unique, and a blender of a narrative, where seemingly a dozen lead characters end up saving the day or getting wiped out by the Martian's unstoppable weapons.

Is it an homage to 1950s space movies? Undoubtedly. To the trading cards that inspired Burton? Absolutely. To screwball comedies, action flicks and disaster movies from a thousand cinematic styles and periods? All that and more, and proof that the heart and soul makes the movie no matter how ludicrous it sounds.

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