Often in sci-fi action spectacles, the aliens pose some threat, and then we kick their butt and send them with the tail between their legs. However, hardly any screen time left to focus on the momentous task of trying to rebuild society, after this world-ravage conquest. In 2019, almost a century after the groundbreaking volume of alien invasion was written, the B.B.C. produced a three-part drama, chronicling the events and the aftermath of The War of the Worlds.
The War of the Worlds starts with observations of strange eruptions from Mars. When a Martian space-rock crashes into earth, forward-looking scientist- and reporter couple, George and Amy, are intrigued to seek it out. That is until flesh-disintegrating lasers start decimating the crowd. The earth of the 1900s is woefully under-equipped to fight this foe. Watch as Amy and George try to survive, the before and after of the onslaught, as the earth tries to come out victorious in the War of the Worlds.
Not to be confused with War of the Worlds, the Anglo-French collaboration starring Gabriel Byrne. Although the miniseries does boast some impressive names of the British acting scene with the likes of Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall, Rupert Graves, and Robert Carlyle. This adaption is far more faithful to the original novel, as recent adaptions tend to contemporise the works of H.G. Wells. Set at a crossroads, where scientific progress and liberal ideals meet old-fashioned attitudes and like-minded politicians. Thrown into an almost unwinnable battle with the Martian invaders, and then flash forwards into a despotic future, as a lot of the societal progress has been completely wiped out. Everything is caked in red, rationing is rampant. The aliens are certainly gone, but they have left their mark on the planet.
Over 100 years after the novel was published, this modern adaption also injects some likewise sensibilities. Amy vocally bemoans the era’s conservative attitudes towards women, while scandalous at the time, the young couple is a divorce away from being a happily married couple themselves if only George’s prior wife would let him. The miniseries does well, especially in the effects department, the famous laser is brought to life as it turns soldiers into a fine powder. Even more so during the after-effects of their brutal campaign, as the B.B.C. spared no detail in depicting the ramshackle remains, especially compared to the lavish finery of early 1900s England.
The War of the Worlds retrains the original engrossing qualities of the novel, with a hint of social commentary and some cool effects, especially on a T.V. set. It’s nice to see a period-appropriate adaptation, without the need for Jeff Lynne’s iconic soundtrack, nor a film that reduces the unique characteristics of the story into a blockbuster thrill-ride. Its three parts are effective in their telling, and that’s all you can ask for. The War of the Worlds isn’t a casualty of its attempts at rebuilding or retelling.
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