Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005). Director/co-writer: David Michael Latt.

In what is first seen as a terrorist attack, missiles land on  major US cities, and huge crab-like tripods emerge from them, bringing death and destruction. Astronomer Dr. George Herbert (C. Thomas Howell) tries to find his wife and son, but is horrified to learn Washington D.C. has been nearly obliterated. It would have been nice if we had actually gotten to see some of this action and devastation, but this low-budget, direct-to-video movie -- which has little real connection to H. G. Wells' classic novel aside from a couple of sequences and characters -- tries a smaller scale approach, to say the least. In this very talky movie Herbert meets up with his brother, Matt (Peter Greene), a sergeant (Andrew Lauer), a psycho lieutenant (Jake Busey) and a pastor named Victor (Rhett Giles). Instead of action and horror, aside from some quick bits, there's a lot of walking and talking and more walking and talking -- characters even tell their back stories during what might have been tense moments. A bit with a green mist of poison gas is briefly creepy, and the scenes of the ruins of Washington D.C. aren't bad. The screenplay has some sensitive moments, but it seems to have forgotten about everything else. Howell, Giles and the other cast members give good performances, however, and the animated tripods are effective. Followed by War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave three years later. This can hardly compare to the George Pal and Steven Spielberg versions. 

Verdict: Whatever it is, it ain't Wells. **.

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