July 05, 2005

The British War of the Worlds

Randy found the british H.G. Well's War Of The Worlds on sale at Wal Mart.

Rumors were floating around that the british were making their own version of War Of The Worlds, which would be absolutely faithful to the H.G. Wells novel. Supposedly it was going to be released at the same time as the Spielberg/Cruise version that's out now. I've been waiting to see this, matter of fact I was surprised that it wasn't released in the theatres.

The fact that it's selling for only nine bucks and went straight to DVD should tell you something.

I'll give it this, from what I saw it looks absolutely faithful to the book. Unfortunately, that is the only good thing I have to say.

Everything else about this film is terrible. The special effects look like something out of a bad 1970s film...no, I'm not kidding! The martian tripod (which looks more like an ant with a couple of tentacles) stands out against the background like a claymation monster from a Ray Harryhausen movie (you know, the old Sinbad films). I'm not against these movies, they were great for their time and still fun to watch now. But why on earth would a modern movie be shot in this style?

All the digital effects are mishandled. Matter of fact, all the digital technology used in this film is very dated, taken back from the days when digital effects were first used in films. I'm trying to think of a film to compare this to and just can't remember a film where the effects where this bad. I mean, the effects in Anaconda were better than in this film. Here's what I mean:

- For some reason they went with a digital horse cart, which just looks awful every time you see it...the horse, the cart, everything. For close ups of the actors, they put then in a fake cart and rocked it in front of a blue screen - this is evident from the very evident shadow around the actor and cart.

- When characters are hit with the heat ray (the beam is invisible, which seems right from the book) they burst into flame then turn into skeletons. But it's obvious digital fake flame superimposed on someone acting out a scream. Then after several cuts back to the same actors screaming and covered in fake flames, they turn into golden-looking digital skeletons that collapse to the ground...still wreathed in fake flames...and continue to writhe in agony for a few seconds. Or maybe they were just settling to the ground, I'm not really sure. I honestly think Harryhausen's skeletons should have been used, they would have looked a hell of a lot better.

- The cylinder in the crater is absolutely fake, and there are numerous tiny and obviously digital fires dotting the landscape. From far away they almost look like they belong there, but when you focus near an actor's feet and there's a bad digital fire effect right there...ugh.

The acting is ok and the costumes look right on, but for some reason they put a fake moustache on the main character. A VERY fake moustache. This was a distraction throughout the viewing.

The filmmakers apparently tried to make up for all this by going for a false color look. Except for the grass, a lot of the film looks like it's been badly colorized or poorly color corrected.

And what's with the running through the fields? OK, I "get it" that most people back then travelled on foot, there were no telephones and automobiles were rare. But every couple of minutes someone (usually the main character) is travelling one way or back the other across a field. A couple of shots here and there are fine, but it just never seemed to end.

If you absolutely have to see this film, then definitely rent it from the local video store. Do not buy it, this is something you'll watch once and never stomach again. It's true to the book, that's for sure, but in this case I'll settle for the book.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like it should have gone the way of the first Fantastic 4 movie. Right into the bit bucket.

J

3:25 PM  
Blogger Rothar said...

Exactly! The first Fantastic 4 film (incidentally, Roger Corman was the director) was reportedly so bad that Marvel shelved it.

The only time I've ever seen it was the same place I saw the Star Wars Christmas Special (which only aired once), in a stall at the Route 18 flea market. I used to go there once every couple of months with John, because they also sold action figures, martial arts films, concert footage, and other rarities. Haven't been there in years...they've probably converted to DVD by now.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yubb yubb my @$$...;)

Beastly thing, shoo shoo... Talk about a horrid memory. I had completely shoved any knowledge of the SW Christmas special into the recesses of my mind.

Thanks for dredging it out! ;) *shudder*

1:32 PM  
Blogger Rothar said...

Wan't Bea Arthur in that? *chuckle*

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I can't conjure the face to go with the name, so I think I'm safe. ;-)

Have you started your "schooling" yet?

J

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean to tell me, that this British vertion of War of the Worlds, is New? Like you I seen it for sale at Walmart for $8, and thinking it was the one from the 50's, I bought it.

I kept trying to figure out when this could have been filmed, and stayed stumped for the full 3 hours, I tryed to keep up with the movie.

The "Barbie hair mustach" was realy the pit's! but had to keep watching, to see where this thing was going...

Then their was the fake battleships...HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

It was like a film that they were working on, but never went back to finish...

And what was all that eating, and drinking all about, by the main charicter, and his religous buddy?
This totaly lost me...went on for at least 20 minuites!

Thought I had seen some bad movies before...boy was I wrong! This takes the cake! and pie,cookie,ect...

Guess it beat mowing the yard tho...

8:22 PM  
Blogger Rothar said...

I gotta give you credit, I never even made it to the battleship scene. I just knew it would be a let-down.

I mean, come on, the Japanese today are making Godzilla movies where the special effects are only 5 years or so behind ours, maybe even less than that. Some of them have begun using computer graphics to good effect. And they're still using a man in a rubber suit - although it is a better looking rubber suit!

You would think that, like the Japanese with Godzilla, the British would look on War of the Worlds as a national epic that deserves to be taken seriously. I did not detect one ounce of national pride in that film.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Rothar said...

My class starts on the 25th BTW

4:12 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Skipping it, thanks.

2:11 PM  

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