Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lock Me Up!: War of the Worlds 2

Of course they made a sequel.  Why should we be surprised?  After all, these are the same people that ripped off The Omen- in 666: The Child- and felt like a sequel was needed- 666: The Beast.  Hell, they apparently made a pair of films about generic killers called...well, The Killers.  Of course, here's the thing: there's really only been one other sequel to the original War of the Worlds.  That was the barely-remembered TV series from the 1980s that lasted one season before being radically-rebooted Seaquest-style and cancelled anyways.  So we're in fairly-uncharted territory here.  This is the first Asylum film I'm covering here that was directed by its star: C. Thomas Howell.  Oh, I wish that I was kidding.  If you like radically-revisionism and lazy exposition combined with some good effects, but terrible pacing, I have the film for you!  Get out your food voucher for gas program for my review of...
The film begins with a lovely studio back lot suddenly under attack by some actually-decent CG walkers.  These guys aren't made out of terrazzo it seems, as they have a red, fleshy texture to them.  I don't know how you make a ship out of veins, but whatever.  One of the people is shot with a beam, but only vanishes, as opposed to turning into bones.  Plot twist or a mistake in the special effects department- you decide!  After the credits, we see random scenes from the end of the last film before we segue to Howell and his kid in a bunker.  Where's the wife, you're asking?  We'll get to that in a bit.  Two years have gone by, but things are still kind of shit.  Mind you, all of the aliens are dead, but I guess enough infrastructure was ruined.  The pair's bunker is powered by the kid riding a stationary bike, since our NASA scientist can only use technology from the 19th Century!  He gets some sort of signal on his radio and goes to warn some people he knows.  It's important, he notes, that the kid not go outside.  He meets up with some old friends...who weren't in the original & explains that his wife was killed...somehow.  Was there a War of the Worlds 1.5 that I missed?  We had no attacks for two years, so what did she die of?  He warns them of an imminent attack, which is when they introduce him to some co-opted alien hardware.  Well, time to go home with no problems...
Turns out that I was wrong.  Our hero runs out of gas and wanders for a bit until he gets cheated out of food rations for a small amount of gas.  Why was this necessary again?  Did you pay off two guys for fixing your car by putting them in your movie, C. Thomas?  He gets home just in time to see his kid get zapped, followed by the thing just sort of leaving.  Well, it must have thought, that was my quota- see you!  He's a bit depressed, but he manages to work for a bit with the others, including a lady scientist, a nerdy guy and a General who they imply was in the last film.  Yeah, he wasn't.  The General talks about a big plan they have to take out the aliens with some jets controlled by the co-opted spaceship.  Don't ask me to explain the science of this, please.  Howell runs off, proving to be a bit unstable.  He does a big monologue to God about he is 'not your Job.'  Wow, this would be very touching if you could actually, you know, act.  He ends up getting shot by the same ray from one of the walkers as we segue to the military brass preparing for an assault.  To the film's credit, some of the CG work is actually kind of decent.  Of course, it's also confusing as hell and centered around characters that I have almost no attachment to.  As a bonus, watch for how much of these shots will end up in The Terminators.  I bet you it's a lot.
The final third of the film is broken up into two parts: Howell wandering around and the humans fighting back. In the first arc, Howell escapes from an alien ship and makes a new friend- one half of '90s rap group Kid 'N Play.  Yeah, I don't care.  They escape from the ship and run into the guy from the beginning, only to learn that this is all virtual reality.  Meanwhile, the ships in battle get pulled through a wormhole and in front of Mars.  They fight some more while Howell and company work on a plan.  In order to up the ante from the 'mysterious, unexplained virus' from the last film, they put a super virus into one of the ships to infect it.  Naturally, the only way to do this is to inject it into Howell and get him sucked into the ship.  You ever heard of syringes, guys?  He escapes from the ship via a plane that just so happens to crash nearby that was flown by the General.  I love you, plot contrivance!  Naturally, this jet can fit four or five people.  The dramatic escape is successful, but will Howell survive?  We cut to a party at the cabin owned by Howell, but the mood is low.  After drawing out the tension, Howell shows up alive and well.  It sure was nice of you to build the whole dramatic arc around whether you would survive, C. Thomas!  The party lasts a few minutes until a familiar radio signal can be heard again.  The End?
This movie sucks and it's boring!  After all of these Asylum films, I don't expect certain things.  I don't expect real good acting.  I don't expect really great effects.  I don't expect high production values or a strong look.  However, I do expect you to make a simple film that flows from Point A to Point B.  You failed to do that!  The idea of a second wave of attacks by the aliens is fine, but making it a mopy tale about Howell helping to save the world by way of his planned suicide attempt is not the way to do it.  I know that you've been in many, many films, Mr. Howell, but it's important to know your range.  You are not a good actor.  You can do alright with a good script- the key problem for his Asylum work- but you're not a good actor.  Making a film that hinges upon your acting sad and/or angry to work is a bad idea!  The worst part is this: they could have made a decent film.  It was never going to be great, but they had decent effects and could have ended up with an above-average Syfy Channel Film.  Since you're The Asylum, you had to find a way to screw that up.  Good job.  If you ever make War of the Worlds 3 (I'm practically counting the days), you can just count me out.  You'll find a way to make it worse- I just know it.
Up next, The Asylum rips off a Will Ferrell film that didn't exactly light up theaters.  Oh yeah, it's another C. Thomas Howell film.  Stay tuned...

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