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Gavin Greig [userpic]

No one would have believed...

March 20th, 2005 (12:16 pm)

At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet, across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth twenty-first century came the great disillusionment.

Yes, the vast, cool, unsympathetic intellects of the film industry are launching a veritable Martian invasion. I was vaguely aware that there was a re-make of The War of the Worlds in the offing, so I decided to check up on details like when it might be appearing in cinemas. To my surprise, I discovered there's not one film version on the way but three! Having looked at a few trailers, I suspect that things are going to follow the usual sort of pattern - there will be a big budget one which will effectively leave the other two choking in its black smoke at the box office, but it won't necessarily be as good as they are.

The one we're likely to hear most fuss about is being made by Steven Spielberg for Paramount and features Tom Cruise. It has been updated to the present day, and appears to have been re-located to North America, thus following in the footsteps of Paramount's Oscar-winning version of the story from the 1950s. There is a shot of London in one of the trailers, but it's unclear to what extent it will feature. You know how Hollywood movies work: there will be big effects, a big name and big explosions, but that may be all. Spielberg's name inspires more confidence than Tom Cruise's but we'll see how it turns out.

The first to be released, however - on March 30th - looks much more interesting. Filmed in secret by Pendragon Pictures, under the cover of being a Boer War movie, it is set in the late Victorian era of H.G. Wells' original writing. It appears to have a more limited budget: "We didn't have a jillion dollars, but our budget is not embarrassing as we're in eight figures.", and this is visible in the effects. The trailer, which presumably showcases some of their best work, shows the destruction of Big Ben sacrificing some verisimilitude for the sake of drama, and some of the acting and lines appear hammy: "Unhand those ladies, you brutes!" - but who cares? You don't get much hammier than Flash Gordon and it works. I am much better disposed towards this movie, particularly as they claim to have done their research - notably trying to identify the "correct" class of ship to depict the ironclad ram Thunder Child.

Finally, and a bit further off, there are plans to create a fully CGI version by Jeff Wayne. This obviously draws inspiration from the album art of the seminal musical version, but it's unclear whether the musical version will have further influences on the movie - such as the soundtrack! Test footage of a tripod (Quicktime .mov 4.6MB) and a Martian flying machine (Quicktime .mov 14.8MB) look promising though. This version is also set in the original era of the novel and I await it in more anticipation than I do the Paramount "blockbuster".

Most of the information above was found via War of the Worlds Online.com, which seems to be the place to watch.


Posted by: Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures)
Posted at: March 20th, 2005 02:03 pm (UTC)


Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: March 20th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)

I think there was a hint of a sniffle in that second Uuuuullllllaaaaaaaa! :-)

Posted by: Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures)
Posted at: March 20th, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC)

Nice CGI, but nothing like the real thing!

Posted by: Nik Whitehead (sharikkamur)
Posted at: March 20th, 2005 08:28 pm (UTC)

Curiously enough, I watched the 1950s George Pal version the other night (as part of a double bill with When Worlds Collide). I've always been a great fan of that movie, and seeing the fighting machines is one of my first real SF memories.

I think I'm looking forward to the Spielberg version for that reason, although I must agree with you that the others are likely to be better films - or if not better, at least more in keeping with the original novel.

But then, I'm one of those few weirdos who actually enjoyed the 90s War of the Worlds tv series.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: March 20th, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC)

I've just lent my copy to msinvisfem, which is how the topic came up. It is impressive for the early 1950s and probably deserved its Oscar for special effects.

I didn't see the TV series, so can't compare.

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: March 21st, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)

Thanks again for loaning out your copy. The War of the Worlds made a very enjoyable late night film.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: March 21st, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)

Glad to hear it! Just let me know if I have anything else you'd like to watch.

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: March 21st, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)

I would have to know what you have, to let you know what you have that I would like to watch!

From what I sort of know I think more Who DVDs would be good and if you have anymore 50's sci-fi that would also be of interest. Oh and thank you for the offer! :-)

Posted by: Doctor TOC (doctor_toc)
Posted at: March 25th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC)

So far no-one's noted that - other than the standard tripod - the designs of the martian machines for the Jeff Wayne movie seem to be taken directly from the Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds computer game that came out a few years ago. I'm rather pleased, since I loved that game. For some reason, I never wanted to play the humans...

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: March 25th, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC)

I thought they looked kind of familiar but hadn't quite put two and two together. I'm not a great player of computer games, but I picked that one up when it was going for under a tenner and thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes, it's more fun as the Martians!

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