"Mars Attacks": help settle a dispute

The movie Mars Attacks was on television a few nights ago. Both my wife and I had already seen it before, though separately. On this recent night she decided to re-watch most of the movie. I only came by a few times to catch some favorite scenes. (I’m not really that fond of Mars Attacks, but it does have a chuckle or two. And who can resist Jack Nicholson, in anything? I sure can’t.)

Toward the end, we were discussing the things we liked about the movie, when she surprised me. She listed: “the chihuahua head on Sara Jessica Parker’s body, the ever-cheezy Tom Jones, the malfunctioning translator…”

The what? The malfunctioning translator. You know, the Martian-language translation device that Pierce Brosnan’s character provides near the beginning of the film — which is what allows everyone (including us, the audience) to understand what the Martians are saying in their odd, otherwise unintelligible “ack-ack” tongue.

Now, I had always imagined right from the beginning that the translator was working as it’s supposed to, but that the Martians were just blatantly lying. Do not run away. We are your friends. We come in peace. ZZZZHAP! But my wife’s understanding is that the Martians were really saying exactly what they were about, and that instead the translator was botched, rendering their belligerent speech mistakenly as pleas for friendship.

So which is it? Were the Martians lying, or was the translator mistranslating?

(For the record, I think my hypothesis is the funnier one. I would also say it’s the more plausible one — but then I remember the movie I’m talking about, and realize that plausibility isn’t a consideration.)

I always viewed it as the Martians being damned dirty liars. Consider the scene where Jack Nicholson is on the phone with the French leader, who claims that they’ve reached a breakthrough in negotiations. Jack says, in effect, “Listen to me, get out of there, they’re-” and then the sound of weapons firing.

If the Martians actually were saying “We’re here to kill you! La la la!” but it was mistranslated, how would they have gotten to a negotiation table and talked through a settlement, and then opened fire?

Plus it’s funnier that way.

Yeah, the Martians were little chickenshits. Besides what lno said, just the way they carried out their attacks. Like when they were sneaking up on an unsuspecting Grandma with the big ol’ MegaBlaster at point blank. They could have taken off and nuked the site from orbit (it’s the only way to be sure), but they enjoyed being dicks.

Jack Black was great as gung ho Billy Ray (or whatever his name was), who was ready to kick some Martian ass, only to utterly, miserably fail. With butt crack.

Another vote for the Martians being chickenshit damned dirty liars.

Liars, although I didn’t view them as chicken shit, just mean and being mean to be funny. To the Martians it is a joke, that’s why they are smiling.

I also thought the Marians were lying, and the translator was functioning properly.

But I see the possiblity that the translator was malfunctioning. Anybody have Tim Burton’s email address?


They came in peace… it was the dove… really… then there was that simple misunderstanding with congress. Must have been another Dove. Of course the tear in their eye when they heard the President’s speech showed the cared. The hand merely malfunctioned and…

Let’ s face it, Martians are the biggest dickheads in the universe (Or scrotum heads) Everytime we have a run in with them they want to kill us!!

We should reserve the right to a premptive strike on that planet!!!

When I saw it I thought that Pierce was so convinced that the Martians had come in peace that he put his bias into the translator, which assumed all their statements were peaceful. I think Burton would be more likely to satirize humans rather than Martians, after all.

Pierce is just the modern day equivalent of the guy waving a white flag at H G Wells’ Martians, sure they come in peace, up to the point he gets disintegrated.

But Brosnan’s character didn’t invent the translator, Dr. Ziegler did.

Sneaking an agent into the White House to kill the President?

Uh… it was a surprise acking telegram?

There’s also the scientist in the original thing who keeps trying to protect the murderous alien.

I always thought that when they have those kinds of characters, the response should be “Okay, you go in and talk to it. If you come out alive, then maybe we’ll consider that you’re right”.

Ok, this has me laughing my ass off!

Liars. I thought they were kind of a cross between Josef Mengele and Moe Howard.

OTTOMH, when the President gives his stirring “Earth and Mars- Together!” speech, to the Martian leader in the war room, the Martians understand perfectly without needing a translator.

In a scene where Martians are rampaging in the streets, one of them is carrying the translator (which is still saying ‘we come in peace’) and laughing.

The Martians are jerks. That’s why they attacked Earth in the first place. Part of the fun is seeing how hostile they can be before the humans realize their true intentions.

‘Wait! We’ll blame the winged life form! We’ll say we thought it was a weapon! Then, we’ll ask for a chance to apologize to important government officials!’

‘They’ll never buy that!’

‘A zorgblon says they will.’

‘I’ll take a piece of that action.’

200 quatloos on the stupidity of the Earthlings!

I know this is Off-Topic, but one of the things I loved about this movie (besides the lying-ass Martians and the gullible Earthlings) was that it was to my knowledge, the first example of a real, genuine, 100%-truly **believable ** DoomsDay weapon being wielded against a scumbutt foe.

Freakin’ brilliant!

Oh, the Martians were total pricknoses and they were only saying nice things in order to see how many times they could get the stupid Earth people to fall for it. I love them inordinately, though, I think they’re the most fabulous SF villains EVER! They’re funny and scary and alien as hell and Slim Whitman makes their heads explode into green Jell-O–what’s not to love? :smiley:

What the bleep; expletive deleted does this mean?

Or is it time for me to pit the use of obscure and pointless acronyms on the Internet?

I think the aliens were lying, but I love the ambiguity (are they lying, or is it just bad translating?)

Off The Top O My Head, FWIW.