Mars Attacks! 1996. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Jonathan Gems. With Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Pam Grier, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sylvia Sidney, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Lisa Marie. 35mm. 106 min.
The Martians are here, and they do not come in peace. A sendup of Hollywood blockbusters as much as a love letter to 1950s science fiction, Mars Attacks! is endlessly chaotic and darkly funny. The best set design allows the characters to blend seamlessly into a physical space so naturally one might never consider the hands behind it; Mars Attacks!, in all its retro-futuristic glory, is an aesthetic feast, with set pieces as eye candy for both audience and character. From the donut shop to UFO interiors, Wynn Thomas’s designs read like a fever-dream of atomic-age, mid-century Americana.