Mysterious meteorites land in England in 1905 and soon after in the whole world. Lovers George and Amy experience the impact of the first thing and the invasion of extraterrestrial life firsthand and flee. As the aliens destroy Earth, the military tries to fight them, with moderate success. Years later, Amy is trapped in a bleak world, there is little food and hardly any water, the sun is obscured by a layer of dust-clouds, and a red web is sprouting everywhere, draining the planet. The only solutions are to wait for things to get better hope in God. Or does Amy know a way out after all that will ensure humanity’s survival?
The War of the Worlds is now a whopping 122 years old. H. G. Wells described the invasion of the aliens already at that time very futuristic and alive. However, the work gained fame on the eve of Halloween 1938 through the radio play by Orson Wells. The latter created a fictional reportage about the invasion, causing fear and terror, even mass panic. People believed what was coming over the airwaves. Since then, the book has been made into a film several times and has had great influences on art. Be it the concept album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds or hidden links in blockbusters like Independence Day, Mars Attack! or even on The Simpsons. Even Otherland by Tad Williams or the first-person shooter classic Half-Life 2 could not avoid dealing with the War of the Worlds.
In 2020, a two-parter was released that deals with both the invasion and the years that followed. Starting with the love story between George and Amy, somewhat forbidden for the time, since George left his family for the redhead and thus fell out of favor everywhere, the two experience the arrival still in full expectation. The thing is identified as a meteorite until it moves and the killing begins. Amy and George are separated, find each other again, the aliens come out of the spheres and eat people. So far the story is known. Amy is pregnant and this fact then shows how much time has passed between the attack and life afterwards, because by then George Junior is quite big. The world afterwards is compared again and again with Mars, the red planet, because also the earth has become red by the strange mesh. Everywhere it is reported about the great victory that the people have won. But if one looks at life and planet afterwards, one must ask the question, at what price did one win? In the camp, which consists of rags, dirt, makeshift shelter, a priest has taken over the leadership and the say. A bit medieval and in the same way he leads the camp. Trust in God and honoring the power of Great Britain, the victorious power. They don’t want to know anything about science and even when Amy finally shares her observations, the priest refuses further research and is not convinced even when Amy presents him with positive results.
The two-parter is about a lot. About love and betrayal, loyalty and hatred, about church, religion, faith in God and the victorious power England, the eternal fight of the church against science.
Is the film adaptation good? Yes and no. The actors are credible, the style is nice and the time after is well portrayed. The social criticism is very good, if you bother to think about it. Less good are the jumps between the after and the time of the invasion. At some point you don’t understand how much time, how many days have passed in one representation or another. This is bad, too many questions are raised that remain unanswered. Since Amy has to witness the death of several aliens and already expresses suspicions to George, it is surprising that she remains silent for years and does nothing to save the planet, humanity and thus herself. A lot of suffering could have been saved if she had opened her mouth earlier and looked for comrades-in-arms.
The two-parter is currently available on Amazon Prime, but also on DVD and Blu-ray. You can spend just under three hours with it and decide for yourself where this work should be placed in the series of further film adaptations. The beginning is really captivating, the ideas are very good. The scenery has been designed with a lot of love for small details and there are some things here and there that are not from the original, but make the story exciting. The time changes are in my eyes exaggerated and not always inserted in the right places, which takes away tension and also a bit of the pleasure of watching.
The War of the Worlds
Duration: 251 minutes
Director: Craig Viveiros
Starring: Rafe Spall, Rupert Graves, Eleanor Tomlinson, Robert Carlyle et al.