Don't get me wrong, I'm sympathetic and the Business Model that Latt follows is at the very least financially logical, if not quite self-sustaining. That, and, well, this version of H.G. Wells' defining Alien Invasion epic isn't really all that bad. In fact, though this isn't some masterpiece, it's worth a watch for all you B-Movie fans out there.
The plot of Latt's script (he co-wrote, directed, produced and edited this thing) is pretty secondary and feels a lot like most versions of this one. The years have not been kind to C. Thomas Howell who stars as, and I'm not kidding, George Herbert, an astronomer with a really hot wife and a gender non-specific son. While Howell looks like he's about a million years old now, his acting is still pretty good. To celebrate their anniversary Herbert and his wife Felicity (Tinarie Van Wyk-Loots whom we see naked immediately, thank you) and son Alex (Dashiell Howell... talk about casting!) plan a trip to Washington D.C., where the parents first met. That is until the Aliens start to crash down in their amazing Meteor crafts. So that the Georgenator can investigate (instead of square dancing) Alex and Felicity go without him. Bye Bye nudity!
The results are predictable, especially if you saw old Tommy search for his family in Spielberg's version! Also, like in Spielberg's War, Latt's is filled with computer graphics and special effects... only on a much lower-rent scale than we've seen before. Gone are Wells' Tripods, and in march Latt's Insect-Like six-legged beasts. Again with the sympathy, it's not as if The Asylum has the boucoup bucks that Dreamworks and Paramount have up their sleeves, so the special effects aren't so bad considering all. One problem is that they don't quite mesh with the cinematography. The walkers look like pre-production animatics and while the appearance of these things (and the havoc they wreak) can be explained away by admitting that these are otherworldly by nature, even the sympathetic eye has to admit that they simply aren't that convincing.
What can be said for Latt is that he realized that, with his budget, his film couldn't survive on Special Effects alone. Instead he shoots for a more cerebral and dialogue-based approach, utilizing Howell's acting skills to the best of their collective abilities. Along the way Howell teams up with the occasional other actor to guide us through this film. Howell is joined off and on by everyone from Jake Busey to Peter Greene to Andrew Lauer shows up for a brief talk with our protagonist as he hoofs it all the way to D.C.! The most notable of Howell's partnerships is with Rhett Giles' Pastor Victor a padre convinced that the alien holocaust is the final judgment of God. His varying faith and doubt, especially as the world unravels around him and his friend Herbert makes for an interesting watching experience. Howell and Giles make a pretty decent acting team.
However, even this falls flat after a while, especially because scenes like this go on and on and on. I hate to say it, but this film gets boring easily and even the better actors tend to deliver their lines in occasionally B-Movie flatness. Scene after scene from the novel and the other filmed versions thereof waltz across the stage like by-the-numbers consideration, and by that respect, it's well worth watching this for fans of (and students of) Wells' vision. There's no question that this was a well intentioned trip, but sometimes the trip results in a fall.
Two and One Half Stars out of Five for David Michael Latt's version of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. You could do a lot worse than this also-ran, but brother, you could most assuredly do one truck-load better. Howell looks a lot less like Soul Man now and a damn sight more like an old man, but his acting is definitely not bad and could be quite good, given the right material. I need to get going, kids. My wife and daughter are supposed to meet me at Universal City, but I'm thinkin' it might be better to all go in the same car, you know, just in case. So, until DML decides to grace us with a new and totally original flick called Ratman Rescinds, I'll see you in the next reel!
And in the end the Worlds you War
Are equal to the Worlds you Bore
Click here for More Reviews!
|What's New?||Alphabetical Listing of Reviews!||SearchThisSite:||Advertise With Us!||About...||Lynx Links:||F*A*Q|