Monday, November 8, 2010

Lock Me Up!: H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds

Yet again, The Asylum strikes!  This film comes to us from 2005, the same year that Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise put out their remake of the classic H.G. Wells novel-turned-film from the '50s.  Naturally, the company wanted a piece of that sweet, sweet movie money and made their own film.  Fun fact: this is actually the film that initially made me aware of The Asylum.  I saw this in a video store and said 'Wow- that DVD is out fast.  Hey, wait a minute...'  I bet that helps explain my disdain for this company, huh?  Anyhow, their version of the film stars C. Thomas Howell, Jake Busey (barely) and a host of shitty CG.  Ah shitty CG, how you're so readily available in every Asylum film.  Will this film live up to it's Hollywood counterpart?  Ha ha ha.  Oh wait, I was being serious.  Yeah, it doesn't.  Let's take a look anyways though.  Get out your deus ex nothing for my review of...
The film begins with a long credit sequence that appears to be out of a bad, 'Wing Commander' sequel.  Within two minutes of the film (counting these credits), we get tits.  Wow, you guys work almost as fast as Zombie Lake!  Said tits come from the wife of C. Thomas Howell's character, a woman so important that she won't be seen after the next ten minutes.  Howell is a scientist for NASA who is supposed to go on a trip with the family to Washington D.C., but work calls him in.  He promises to see the family the next morning in the city.  Say good-bye to the family, viewers!  His actual trip to work is so unimportant we see none of it and, instead, skip to his trip that night to D.C.  Along the way, his car stops working, so he wanders around as a meteor crashes into the Earth.  The people wander over to see it, while another man apparently found a way to fall into the newly-formed crater.  Good job, Mr. Bean!  The movie wastes a couple minutes watching him yell as a glowing light attacks him to reveal...a barely-visible CG land-crawler.  Kudos to disguising your shitty effects with a lack of lighting.  Next you're going to just play the sound effects instead of actually showing them.  Oh wait, they don't do that until later.
Our hero manages to run away as the ship blasts people into skeletons.  Odd how the skeletons jump away from the camera after the body is destroyed.  He goes back home to get some supplies, meeting up with a neighbor.  Hey, good to see you.  I'm sorry to see that you'll die off-screen, pal.  What was the point of this scene, other than to establish some minor pathos later?  He goes into the city and meets up with a guy from the military.  He's the slightly tougher-looking version of Suddenly Susan star David Strickland (obscure reference for the win!) and proves to be chatty.  Since our hero has all of the personality of an undercooked ham, I welcome him.  We also meet Jake Busey in the first of his two scenes.  His role: being a complete asshole.  Good to know that you can get roles where you don't even have to act.  Our heroes flee from another attack which happens in slightly-more light than before.  The pair get split up and Howell escapes in a motor-less boat that just sort of moves itself.  He's saved by a priest (played by the Van Helsing guy from Dracula's Curse) who seems hopeful and optimistic.  The pair wander around for a bit, passing by a crashed ship.  This is a reference to the ship attack from Spielberg's film...which they were too cheap to shoot.  Lame!
The aliens prove formidable, taking out more military men with their ships and a new weapon: fart gas.  Okay, it's just green, but you get my point.  The priest has a breakdown before he dies in a silly moment (see the newest Deep Blue Sea Moment of Cinema), leaving our hero to wander around on his own.  Who does he run into?  His old army buddy, who apparently survived the entire city being destroyed in a ball of fire.  He tries to get Howell to join up with him and Busey.  Jake is not exactly keen to the idea, opting instead to just shoot the guy in the head.  Howell retaliates by hitting the man with a rock once, which apparently kills him.  His men, of course, just walk off and barely react.  Alone again, Howell wanders into a destroyed Washington D.C.  That sight would be more impressive had I not logged 50+ hours in 'Fallout 3.'  He begs for death by taunting an alien walker, only to learn that it's dead.  In fact, all of them are dying.  Why?  The movie never says.  I guess they figured that if they said 'germs killed them,' they would be sued.  Their answer: 'I don't know- maybe it was the germs or the atmosphere or something.'  Lame.  Oh yeah, Howell's family is alive and all is well.  The End.
This movie sucks!  The plot is pretty minimalist: Howell has to get past the aliens to find his family.  You couldn't give me any more than that, huh?  This probably goes without saying but the special effects here are bad.  The ships appear to be made out of terrazzo, which is kind of odd.  It's not exactly sinister or ominous, guys!  Oh yeah, the acting is pretty bad here too.  Given that the film's two biggest 'stars' are Howell and Gary Busey's kid, is this really a shocker?  Ultimately, this film just fails for some pretty basic reasons.  The film just can't match the scale, power or atmosphere of Spielberg's film or the Cold War mystique of the original film.  Hell, it certainly does nothing to match the (alleged or otherwise) hysteria of the original radio broadcast.  So what does it have to really offer?  Ooh, I can answer that- nothing!  Random boobs.
Next up, The Asylum brings us the sequel to this film...a good three years later.  As a bonus, this film is also directed by C. Thomas Howell- the horror.  Stay tuned...

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