I hadn't looked at my DVD of Tim Burton's ridiculously over-the-top homage to Fifties Sci-Fi movies in years - and I was stunned at two things when I popped this 2010 BLU RAY reissue in my Sony - first - the massive improvement in picture quality - and second - just how ball-breakingly funny "Mars Attacks!" actually is.
At times the great picture quality is a shock after the dull DVD I've been used to since 1996 - there's tremendous clarity on offer on almost all of the internal scenes. And the upgrade has somehow made the film seem all grown-up all of a sudden - a real contender for an all-time comedy classic too easily dismissed as fluff when it was released.
Genuinely anarchic in a way so few movies are these days, you also forget how good and varied the cast was... Glenn Close plays the President's fussy uptight wife Marsha Dale ("...they're not eating off the bone china, I can tell you that..."), Pierce Brosnan is brilliant as the pipe-smoking Professor Donald Kessler forever with a reasonable explanation about 'cultural misunderstandings' and why the Martians are delighting in ray-gunning everything in sight. Donald also has the hots for airhead news reporter Natalie Lake played deftly by Sarah Jessica-Parker (she and her irritating Chihuahua dog end up closer than they should at one point). Martin Short plays the permanently randy White House Press Secretary Jerry Ross (Lisa Marie does a great turn as a alien prostitute), Annette Bening as a dizzy hippy-chick saving her glass pyramid in her handbag as the Aliens wreck Vegas and Rod Steiger is just fabulously tacky as General Decker - the military dinosaur whose battle cry of "Kill! Kill! Kill!" turns out to be right all along.
There's Danny DeVito as a gross gambler, Lukas Haas as the only sane kid in a trailer-trash family ("...they ain't getting the TV...") trying to protect his wheelchair bound aunt (played with relish by Sylvia Stalwart). We get Blaxsploitation stars Jim Brown and Pam Grier as a couple trying to keep their family together (their kids gaming skills come in handy when the aliens attack the Whitehouse). There are even early roles for Jack Black and Natalie Portman before global fame consumed them both - and Tom Jones gives it a bit of swivel-hip as he belts out the irrepressibly brill "It's Not Unusual". Danny Elfman's score is suitably throwback and brilliantly woven into every scene - it even pays respects to the films Tim Burton so loved by taking the ray gun sound from the 1953 Sci-Fi classic "War Of The Worlds". And by the time you get to the end - you've enjoyed enough fried doves of peace, bowling balls taking out Easter Island and splattered alien brain matter in glass-dome helmets to keep any customer satisfied.
But the real shame of this Blu Ray reissue is the complete lack of any bonus material (not even a trailer for God's sake), when this release screamed out for an orgy of it (definitely docked a star for that).
My son Sean watched this with me (he's 14) and we then spent a good hour afterwards going around the TV room squawking "Ack Ack!" like giggling mayhem-inducing aliens. Buy this and do the same peopleoids.
Nice one Mr. Burton - and a bit of a wee gem frankly...
AUDIO Details: Spoken Languages: English, French, Dutch, Italian, Castellano, Czech and Thai Subtitles: English (SDH), French, German, Italian, Castellano, Dutch, Chinese, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Greek, Norwegian, Portuguese, Thai and Korean