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Star-studded 'Mars Attacks!' invades big screen

scene December 13, 1996
Web posted at: 4:30 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Bill Tush

(CNN) -- Life on Mars? Water on the moon? A moon that may actually be a planet?

In light of these recent findings, it appears "Mars Attacks!" director Tim Burton already knew something we didn't.

filmstrip

"Yeah, it was a cheap Warner Brothers publicity stunt. Those weren't scientists, they were second-rate actors," Burton said. "Couldn't you see through them? Their performance was dreadful."

"Mars Attacks!" depicts a three-part invasion of America by bug-eyed, big-brained Martians. The U.S.' bumbling president and his aides, as well as a mix of ordinary folks from the plains of Kansas to Las Vegas, are left to fight off the dastardly invaders. movie icon (1.2MB/32 sec. QuickTime movie)

The sci-fi flick features more stars than a "Love Boat" episode.

Jack Nicholson plays the president, Glenn Close the first lady. Rod Steiger is the general. Martin Short plays the spin doctor. And Tom Jones plays, well, Tom Jones.

"Because it was an ensemble ... no one has the pressure of carrying a movie," Short said. "So you just looked at the call sheet and saw who was in that day."

The list goes on and on.

"It was like a 'Circus of the Stars,'" Burton said. "I don't know how it happened; all I know is that I feel lucky to have had it happen."

But if, as the movie suggests, we are not alone in the universe, should we make contact if given the chance?

"I have enough trouble talking to humans, so I don't know what I would end up saying," Burton said. "I may have a better or worse time talking."

Burton believes in the possibility of life beyond the stars because of personal experience.

"I think that everybody has seen something where you just don't know what it is. I know that it could be anything, but I have a couple of things that have blown my mind," Burton said.

If something is out there, let's hope it won't be the little green men starring in "Mars Attacks!"

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