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.