Stars: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger. Directed by Tim Burton. Rated PG-13 for profanity, violence.

A fleet of flying saucers from the planet Mars journeys to Earth and encircles it. The president of the United States (Jack Nicholson) and his top scientific advisor(Pierce Brosnan) are inclined to believe that the Martians are a friendly bunch. This belief, however, fades when the extra-terrestrials land and, after a few moments of peaceful words, wipe out their welcoming committee with ray guns. With this gruesome massacre written off as a misunderstanding between disparate cultures, the president allows the Martian ambassador to address congress, only to watch in chagrin as they, too, are annihilated. Conventional weapons prove nearly useless in thwarting the attack, but the solution to ridding the world of these dangerous interlopers is simpler than anyone realizes. Almost anyone, that is.

Director Tim Burtonís penchant for the absurd is on display in "Mars Attacks!" without restraint. The film is often funny and features special effects which, although decidedly retro, are quite clever and effective. Where the movie often stumbles is in its attempt to carry on numerous subplots which really arenít terribly interesting. Consider this film to be the flip side of "Independence Day", to which youíll often find yourselves comparing it because of several similarities. "Mars Attacks!" is a mixed bag; how much you enjoy depends on how many of its flaws you can overlook.

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