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YMMV: Mars Attacks!

The Film

  • Adaptation Displacement: The trading card series from the 60's and the comic series from the 90's are known well among pop-culture geekdom but most people recognize these aliens from this movie.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Martian "paper" looks suspiciously like condom wrappers.
  • Acceptable Targets: Congress. In-Universe, at least one human finds their slaughter at the hands of the Martians hilarious, as did many of the audience members.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Was the translation machine built by the Martians actually effective at translating their messages, making them lying liars, or was it just consistently mistranslating their warnings of impending doominess as messages of peace?
    President: He did say 'we come in peace'.
    • Or maybe, unable to ever get the machine's bugs sorted out, the human scientists just played a recording at the landing ceremony to cover their own asses.
    • Also the Martian Leader's reaction to the President's big speech. Was he just fucking with him For the Evulz, or did he genuinely gain a bit of respect for the president in that scene. Notice how the Martians aren't overtly sadistic or mean after the speech. Maybe they gave him the closest thing to a noble death they could comprehend.
      • The novelization gives an answer to the above questions: the Martians are lying through their teeth any time they say they come in peace. Destroying planets is the entire basis of their civilization - it's their reason for living.
    • The Martian who killed Danny DeVito's character, he seems to be contemplating his proposal before he decided "ah screw it, I wanna zap him".
    • The Martians may be redneck trailer trash like Ritchie's parents, and a Flying Saucer is just like a pick-up truck to them.
    • Grandma might not be such a space case - she might just have a uniquely mordant sense of humour.
  • Awesome Music: A given seeing how Danny Elfman is the composer. Special mentions include:
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Variation: The cast is loaded with self-sufficient, bombastic Jerkasses. This is so we don't feel sorry when the Martians kill all of them and feel good about the ones which are genuinely good mostly surviving.
  • Fridge Brilliance: When nuclear weapons are used against the the Martians they capture the explosive force of the nuke, and smoke it! They actually get high on radioactive explosives. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that a hydrogen bomb really does produce helium as a by-product of nuclear fusion.
  • Fridge Logic: How come Donald Kessler and Nathalie Lake's heads can breathe if it's been established the Martians breathe nitrogen? Why are they alive at all?
    • Martian science.
    • Conversely, why CAN'T the Martians breathe on Earth considering Earth's atmosphere is in fact 78% nitrogen?
      • Allergies to the remaining 22% of stuff? Could be some thing as simple as an oxygen allergy?
  • Funny Moments: "They blew up Congress! Ahahahahahahaha!" It Makes Sense in Context.
    • It makes sense out of context. It's Congress.
  • Genius Bonus: If you know how nuclear fusion works, the Fridge Brilliance above kicks in.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff and possibly Periphery Demographic: Relased a few months after Independence Day, the biggest hit of its year, Mars Attacks! flopped in theatres in the US. It did much better business in Europe and has since become a regular favourite on satellite movie channels.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: There's a shot of the World Trade Center 15 minutes into the movie. In a blink-and-you-miss-it shot later on, we see the Twin Towers tumbling over like giant dominoes.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the ending we get Natalie Portman giving the movie's true hero a medal and kissing him this was before Phantom Menace but seems like an accidental reference to it.
    • If you've played Team Fortress 2, Tom Jones' cameo will probably result in a giggle, as mentioning him is somewhat of a Running Gag in the supplemental comics and videos. Though where Tom Jones shows up to be a badass in this film, in the comic Unhappy Returns he instead spends one panel alive before being abruptly killed off.
  • Inkstain Adaptation: There are fans of the original Mars Attacks cards who don't care at all for the film's comedic tone.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Ack ark erk ack ack! Ack! Erk ack ark? Ack!"
  • Moment Of Awesome: "It's ME! Byron WILLIAMS! HEAVYWEIGHT! CHAMPION! OF THE WORLD!"
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Martian ambassador was brought into the White House claiming to apologize for his people's misdeeds. What does he do? Reduce everyone to skeletons.
    • The Martian Emperor when he turns down his chance for redemption and impales the President in the chest with a flag.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Any online discussion of this movie will inevitably devolve into a rundown of just how many kids had nightmares of the Martians hiding in their closets or outside their windows. Their Uncanny Valley appearance of a skeleton, their violent ACK ACK language, and the sheer glee with which they mutilate/disintegrate humans have haunted the dreams of children throughout The Nineties.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Lisa Marie as the Martian Girl.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Natalie Portman, Jack Black, and Sarah Jessica Parker (to a lesser extent), were not famous when this movie came out and would only later be recognized, making this all-star cast even more impressive.
    • Perhaps subverted with Portman, given she'd already been recognised for her work in The Professional, a few years earlier.
  • So Bad, It's Good: It imitates cheesy sci-fi movies on purpose.
  • Special Effects Failure: Deliberate or not, a good chunk of the CGI has not aged well.
    • For instance, any time Earth's shown, it looks like a painted rubber ball.
    • The robot looks fine while in the flying saucer its housed in. But atrocious when matted in with the live action.
    • They daytime shots with the aliens make them look utterly fake, some of their animation also looks stiff.
    • The matte paintings in the film are almost cartoonish in nature.
  • Spiritual Licensee: Destroy All Humans!
  • Ugly Cute: The small frame, large eyes, and little "ack ack" noises are kind of adorable when you look past their skeletons-with-massive-brains look.
  • Vindicated by Cable: This movie failed at the box office hard enough to screw Tim Burton out of directing what eventually became Superman Returns. Only now is it a minor classic.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The saucers are actually very well done for 1996. A couple of the alien scenes (like the ones in the saucers) aren't half bad either.
    • The destruction of the Galaxy Hotel? Was a real Las Vegas hotel, with its (already scheduled in advance) demolition filmed by the movie crew.

The original cards

The film and the original cards


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