Mars Attacks! *
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, et al.
Directed by: Tim Burton.

I just didn't get it. When this came out in the theaters, it was advertised as a lighthearted spoof of bad 50's sci-fi movies, perhaps a moderately entertaining diversion. Its website calls it a "wacky sci-fi comedy spoof." It boasts a solid cast (Jack Nicholson, Michael J. Fox, Danny DeVito, and a lot of other well-known dudes) and a great director (Tim Burton), so it seemed reasonable to expect a kickin' movie.

It just ain't funny, or even amusing. While it does have its moments of subtle, ironic humor, this is more like a PG-13 horror/gross-out movie than a comedy. The plot is something about Martians landing all over the place and chanting, "We are your friends! We come in peace!" while they systematically aim their ray guns at every human they see, reducing each one to a charred skeleton. We never get to know the large cast well enough to care when the Martians kill them. And this is a bad thing, because we should have some reaction; if they were bad guys, we should at least feel, "Good, he deserved it." But we never feel more than apathy toward any of the characters, and the end result is just depression.

The plot really doesn't go much beyond what I've said, and the special effects aren't interesting enough to distract the viewer. So just accept the fact that a high-caliber director can produce a very bad movie, and give Mars Attacks! a wide berth in the New Releases section; rent an episode of MST3K instead.