The first knowledge I had of the work as the fantastic double gatefold LP from Jeff Wayne, but for other screen versions, anyone with a brain will know how brilliant the original 1952 movie was… and yes, I also loved the 2005 remake, even though it will have a lot of haters just because it starred Tom Cruise. That version differed by starting with the aliens always underneath the Earth’s surface, erupting as they went.
In 2019, the Martians do a bit of both, as we see them set sail for Earth. We might be able to deal with them if we used our modern technology, but alas for us, it’s 1905 and we haven’t even got television yet.
This three-parter, still due to air on the BBC, has already been shown elsewhere in the world, and runs for 60 minutes each episode. In the opener, it takes around 35 minutes before anything actually happens! Way too much chat chat chat about not very much. After that, you can skip to 45 minutes when the aliens finally show their face… well, whatever that machine on three legs is.
Well, I say it’s in three parts. In some places, this has been shown in three 60-minute parts, but the version I’m watching is in two 90-minute sections.
The ‘present day’ action – well, with everyone dressed in normal clothes – is juxtaposed with scenes from a dystopian future where the world is still Edwardian, but while the aliens have been defeated, everyone’s still living in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style wasteland.
There’s some very lame CGI in this, particularly when dealing with fire, and we also learn that everyone is proficient at riding horses. And don’t forget the obligatory Independence Day-style scene where the army blow one of the army spinning ball-things out of existence, only to find that when the dust clears… it’s still there. In fact, the CGI in this makes it look like I’m watching a preview workprint where the effects haven’t been completely finished, but no, I’m watching the final version!
If you’re looking for some great sci-fi action, you won’t find it here, but instead, you WILL find the characters DESCRIBING what the aliens did offscreen when they levelled the town. There’s precious little sight of the aliens at all. It’s like watching The Dam Busters but without showing the busting of the dam!
Plus, at no point do you feel like any of the main characters are in physical danger, and you could bet your house over which of the rest are going to bite the bullet. In fact, this really is quite piss-poor, given how it’s turned out.
And despite Robert Carlyle getting star-billing, he’s hardly in it! Why hire him if you’re not going to give him anything to do?
Confusingly, while this series is called The War of the Worlds, there’s also War of the Worlds, a US-created drama from Fox and StudioCanal, starring Gabriel Byrne, and set in the present day, which begins on Wednesday in the US. Like buses, you wait ages for one and then two turn up at once!
So, The War of The War of the Worlds?!
The War Of The Worlds 2019 is due to be broadcast on BBC1 in November 2019, but so far a date has not yet been set. It’s available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of the released on December 2nd.
Director: Craig Viveiros
Producer: Betsan Morris Evans
Adaptation: Peter Harness
Novel: HG Wells
Music: Russ Davies
Amy: Eleanor Tomlinson
George: Rafe Spall
Ogilvy: Robert Carlyle
Greaves: Charles De’Ath
Priest: Jonathan Aris
George Jnr: Woody Norman
Stall holder: Reid Anderson
Lillian: Taliyah Blair
Navy Officer: Philip Gascoyne
Henderson: Joey Batey
Salesman: Sam Benjamin
Mary: Freya Allan
Chamberlain: Nicholas Le Prevost
Frederick: Rupert Graves
Stent: Daniel Cerqueira
Lucy: Aisling Jarrett-Gavin
Newspaper Boy: Bradley Cottrell
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.