War of the Worlds should have been better

Just finished watching the BBC’s new adaptation of the HG Wells classic, and I have to say I was left a little bit cold. When I heard that it was shot in just three parts, I was worried. Three parts didn’t sound like enough, but on the other other hand, I’ve seen two movie adaptations that managed to do a half decent job (Mmm. Just realised that I never reviewed the Tom Cruise outing) with less time to play with, so thinking about it, three parts, an hour each, should’ve been plenty.

When you’ve got only a few hours to tell a story of global devastation, then the best tack is to focus on a small group of people and see how the destruction of everything around them makes the stronger or breaks them apart. This worked very well for Tom Cruise, it didn’t work that well for the BBC. I think the main problem was that the group of people they chose to focus on just wasn’t that interesting.

The Beeb chose to follow a slightly dysfunctional (not dysfunctional enough to keep me from yawning) of rich, privileged politicians. Before the invasion, the family had been rocked by scandal: George (wet blanket broadsheet reporter) had left his wife, and taken up with Amy (fiery, red-headed scientist). Fair enough, but throughout the whole piece, I had the feeling that the scandal was more important than the imminent eradication of all life on Earth.

But what about the rest of the upper classes? Well, they huffed and tutted and sent orders to the lower classes to throw themselves in front of the invading aliens, while standing on the steps of important-looking buildings pontificating about how the day would be won simply because the superior alien force had never fought an Englishman.

The stupidity in believing that being English was a God-given guarantee of victory was a theme that ran through the whole piece, and I got the feeling that the BBC was trying to tell us something, but was somehow afraid to be a little more explicit in what it wanted to say. It was very odd. Along the way, they also had a poke at people who believe close their eyes to science in favour of religion.

Nope, still don’t care.

Anyway, I found none of the characters interesting enough to become vested in, which was a real problem because there wasn’t enough going on around them to hold draw me into the rest of the series. The world seemed very small: there were only a handful of alien machines that attacked a small village, a street in London, and and a beach near Dover. It just didn’t have the scale I was expecting from such an epic piece of science-fiction.

And the last problem I had with it was the ending; it was just a bit rushed: cure found, sun reappears, the end.

I don’t know, I was just expecting it to better than it was. Three out of ten.

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