H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005)

hgwellswotw2No, this is not that movie with that religious maniac, the screaming girl, and the psychotic liberal they meet in a basement, this is that other more low-budget remake of the H.G. Wells’ classic, and much like everything these days, these brilliant authors are added to the front of these titles to instill a sense of credibility. Little do these studios know that these authors would consider these films abominations, because they are. Like every bad movie, I watch with the hope–and some would say naiveté–that these movies won’t be as bad as I’ve heard, yet I’m always wrong. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel to pick flaws from a film that has a relatively low budget, but could they have squeezed out a logical, coherent story in the process? Even Pal was able to give a great story along with–what is considered today–ancient special effects.

I mean when the budget is so low they can only really afford ten minutes of alien carnage, and then leave the rest up to suggestion with wreckage every which way, it’s obvious you’re not going to come across a masterpiece here. Everyone here says at every chance they get, “The world has been obliterated”, yet these characters go through towns that are perfectly in tact, and people all seem rather nonchalant that the world is ending. Meanwhile, most of the film is spent on the main character George (C. Thomas Howell looking as if he’s really trying to force a good performance out of the muck) and a nameless soldier walking through wreckage and talking without ever saying anything, while soldiers shoot up at relatively nothing. People were often saying in the Spielberg version, “Which is it? Do the aliens want to destroy humans or harvest them?”

But wait until you watch this version. Sometimes the aliens zap humans, sometimes they grab them, and then sometimes they burn them, and hit them with acid leaving them to die. Which is it, for god sake? And there’s no purpose for the aliens invading here. They just come from a crater, begin destroying the world and die in the climax. Howell plays George an astronomer who surprisingly doesn’t know a lot about his career. The script deflects any chance to add credibility to their character because when anyone ever asks George to explain and deduce what the aliens are there for, quickly we’re turned in to other conversations. It’s always:

Soldier: What do you do for a living?
George: I’m an astronomer.
Soldier: Really? What do you make of these things?
George: Well I think–look they’re back, run!

George’s wife and son drive off to Washington for a trip while he stays behind to discover a shooting star. Luckily for George he lives near a forest, and the comet so happens to land in the forest. A comet collides in the woods… but no aftershock? No destruction? No massive wind? No fire? The main character watches the comet explode in the trees, and suddenly only seconds later, there is a large a group of people around the crater? How did they get there so fast? The true beauty of the crap that emerges from this version is that there is nothing but basically bad writing, horrible editing, and a brutally inconsistent plot. After the aliens emerge from the comet crater to destroy the world, George now needs to get to his wife and son before they die, and continues on a mission of utterly idiocy that felt like eternity.

One of the utter torturous elements of this remake was the ridiculous story that insulted the audiences intelligence on every occasion, and it’s a shocker when three writers can’t even bring together a coherent story. George tells his wife to meet him on the steps of the Lincoln memorial? Who in gods name asks their loved ones to meet on the most public place in the world during the end of the world? And George’s wife explains that it’s only a five hour drive to Washington DC, then why does it take George so long to get there? He seems to be walking for two days. Did the aliens destroy the perception of time and logic? Meanwhile, “War of the Worlds” stands to hold the worst editing I’ve ever seen in a film. Thanks to said horrible editing, much of the first half of the alien invasion is ridiculous. The main character sees the aliens through the fog before anyone, he screams they have to run, everyone runs but him, everyone standing around is killed, yet he still remains unseen?

And we know that the actors are looking down at nothing pretending its a massive crater, because the editing makes it painfully obvious, in one cut he’s reaching for a man that fell in the hole, and in the next cut he’s looking up at the alien. Much like the Spielberg version, it can never truly stick to the story elements it lays out. People say the electricity is out everywhere, yet George calls his wife over the phone in his bright house? And he comes across his neighbor who is packing up in his car, though it’s established cars won’t work. And the writers attempt to squeeze out of this plot hole by he saying: “I don’t know if it will work, but we’ll see.” So what happens if your car doesn’t work? And in one instance, George gets a call on his cell phone from his wife, while we see people in the background trying to work their own phones? Is that not the most hackneyed editing I’ve ever seen? I think it is.

The dialogue is very muddled; it’s some of the worst I’ve ever seen. There is so much bad dialogue, I wasn’t sure if they were playing it for comedy at times. In one scene a priest that begins following George during the second half explains definitely, “DC hasn’t been hit, your family is safe”, then George asks, “Really? DC wasn’t hit?!” to which the priest replies, “I don’t know, George.” My brains exploding just remembering such ridiculous hackery. Then, someone actually uses the word “Ginormous” seriously, and the attempted levity consists of Busey’s character (Busey gives a horrible walk-on role proving that he’s no actor) making rapid fire gay jokes in his small appearance, and some girl declaring “Smells like ass” upon standing over the pretend crater.

The movie is also hilariously melodramatic as we’re supposed to feel sorry for characters we only see for a minute. There’s also this very drawn out ridiculous scene in which George’s brother Matt, whose on-screen for a total of two minutes dies, and Howell attempts an emotional outburst at his brother’s death. And, there’s even a laughable attempt to display a commentary on religion. “War of the Worlds” is pure trash from beginning to end. Say what you want about Spielberg’s 2005 remake, but there can be no argument that that film was a masterpiece compared to this shit. It really says something that it took three writers to produce such a piece of crap. With plot holes galore, horrible acting, horrible editing, and some of the worst dialogue ever written, “War of the Worlds” is an awful movie with no redeeming features presented to the audience.