H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005 film)
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|H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds|
|Directed by||David Michael Latt|
|Produced by||David Rimawi|
|Written by||David Michael Latt, Carlos De Los Rios|
|Based on||The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells|
|Starring||C. Thomas Howell
Tinarie Van Wyk-Loots
|Music by||Ralph Rieckermann|
|Editing by||David Michael Latt|
|Distributed by||The Asylum|
|Running time||90 minutes|
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds (also known as Invasion and H. G. Wells' The Worlds in War internationally, or simply as War of the Worlds) is a science fiction horror mockbuster by The Asylum. It is one of three 2005 film adaptations of H. G. Wells' 1898 science fiction novel The War of the Worlds.
Much like Steven Spielberg's film version, War of the Worlds is a modernized adaptation, but was released by independent production company The Asylum, whose budget may be more on par with the Pendragon film version. No theatrical release date had been planned; instead the film was a direct-to-DVD release. All three were released in June of the same year.
The story tells the experience of an astronomer, George Herbert, who is separated from his wife and son when a Martian army invades the planet, driving massive "walkers" or zombies. He tries to make his way to Washington, D.C. to reunite with them as the human race faces extinction.
Unlike other adaptations, The Asylum intended to make this War of the Worlds film a horror film. It was rated R in the United States and 15 in the United Kingdom for strong violence and gore, language and some nudity. Director David Michael Latt describes the film as The Pianist with aliens instead of Nazis, comparing the tale of one man's story of survival.
The DVD was released on June 28, one day before Spielberg's film, and has a few notable stars including C. Thomas Howell, Peter Greene, and Jake Busey. The alternate title of Invasion is likely for the film's overseas distribution since Paramount claim to own exclusive film rights to the War of the Worlds title in the European Union. The film is one of The Asylum's most successful, having sold over 100,000 copies from Blockbuster upon its release. The original poster has a striking resemblance to the Independence Day poster.
Astronomer George Herbert and his wife Felicity are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. He and his son Alex look at Mars through their telescope. Instead, they see a meteor-like object. George's boss calls him in to investigate the object. Felicity takes Alex to Washington, D.C. without George, who promises to meet them when he is done working.
As George drives to work, his radio makes strange noises. His car then shuts down right as a large, flaming object crashes into the nearby hills. He goes to the crash site and finds a massive meteor in a crater. All of the cars and cellphones have somehow been disabled. A young woman named Audrey runs into George for help because her boyfriend Max fell into the crater. George and Audrey encourage and tell Max to climb out, but he is distracted by activity coming from the meteor. Suddenly, metallic tentacles grabs Max and everyone flees. Slowly, a large, crab-like Martian walker climbs out, incinerates Audrey with a heat-ray, and starts grabbing people. George manages to escape and makes his way home, where nothing electrical works. He starts walking toward Washington where he hopes to find his family at the Lincoln Memorial. He sets off to locate his brother, Matt, an Army Ranger in nearby Hopewell.
The next day, George comes to a bridge where soldiers are holding back civilian refugees. A mother, who believes the Martians are just terrorists tells George that Washington, along with New York City and Los Angeles, were invaded first before any other city. Another meteor crashes nearby and a walker end up attacking the soldiers. George escapes and runs into a soldier named Kerry Williams, whose entire squad was lost in battle against the "walkers". He agrees to travel with George to Hopewell. They meet Lt. Samuelson, who is outraged that the aliens killed his family and interested in George because he is a scientist. He tells George that Washington was completely wiped out and there are no survivors, not even the President. George and Kerry reach Hopewell, but the town was already invaded by walkers. They find Matt, who is fatally wounded. He eventually dies of his wounds while George and Kerry are separated during a new attack, with George escaping in a canoe.
After spending a day drifting downstream, George develops an extreme fever and spends two days in an abandoned car. He is found by Pastor Victor, an Australian. They find an unscathed neighborhood and find food and clothes at the veterinarian's home. George and the Pastor hide upstairs from the aliens' poisonous gas, where they find several vials of rabies vaccines. A giant explosion causes the house to collapse. George wakes hours later to find that a meteor has destroyed the neighborhood. He observes the aliens draining blood from living humans.
George plans to use a rabies vaccine against them. When a Martian enters the house, George injects it with the rabies vaccine and it quickly retreats. The alien returns and sprays acid over Victor, killing him in seconds. George hides in the house's ruins until the aliens abandon the crater days later. He again runs into Kerry and Samuelson. Kerry insists that George cannot fight them, but Samuelson suddenly shoots Kerry in the head and George kills him and finally reaches Washington, which lies in ruin. Unable to find his family, he sees a single Martian and surrenders to it, having lost everything to the invaders. The alien however drops dead. Out of nowhere, a group of survivors appear and reveal that the aliens have been dying for several days from an airborne virus. Alex and Felicity are among the survivors and the family is tearfully reunited.
The Martians have been killed by the virus, and with most of Earth's population wiped out, the survivors are left to rebuild humanity.
- C. Thomas Howell as George Herbert
- Andy Lauer as Sgt. Kerry Williams
- Rhett Giles as Pastor Victor
- Tinarie Van Wyk-Loots as Felicity Herbert
- Jake Busey as Lt. Samuelson
- Peter Greene as Matt Herbert
- Dashiell Howell as Alex Herbert
- Edward DeRuiter as Max
Adapting the novel
Director/editor/executive producer/co-writer David Michael Latt (who admits to never seeing the Byron Haskin/George Pal version or the 1988 television series, but has been a fan of the H.G. Wells novel since childhood) made it clear that his film changed certain aspects from the source material outside of the time and location. Most notable is that the tripods have been changed to six-legged crab-like machines called "walkers" (a result of allowing the effects team creative freedom).
The aliens are indeed Martians (though the film never states this, but is confirmed with an opening credit sequence using shots of the Red Planet's landscape), but they bear little resemblance to their novel's counterparts. Whereas Wells described his invaders as bear-sized tentacled creatures, the film's Martians are insect-like with four tentacle-like legs. These aliens also have the ability to spit acid from their feet, which melts anything. At the end of the legs three tongue-like appendages closely resemble the Martian fingers from Byron Haskin's 1953 film version of The War of the Worlds and the 1988 television series version.
The war machines are crab-like "walkers" with six legs. A Heat Ray is built into the machine's "head", and is fired from a single eye. The fighting machines do not appear to have protection against modern artillery (avoiding the "invisible shields" seen in the 1953 film version and Steven Spielberg's 2005 film), leaving their ability to conquer unexplained. The aliens do have a substance similar to the black smoke, but is more of a dense green toxic gas unable to rise above ground level, allowing survivors to escape by getting to high places.
The protagonist is George Herbert, a reference to H. G. Wells. Rather than being a writer, as in the novel, he is an astronomer. The film leaves the eve of the war storyline and its characters almost completely absent. He also has a son, who is portrayed by Dashiell Howell, who is actually the son of George's actor C. Thomas Howell.
Despite these differences, George goes through much of what befalls the novel's protagonist, even in sacrificing himself to the Martians, only for them to drop dead of infection. He is also separated from his family and tries to reunite with once the invasion begins, Like the novel, they are alive in the conclusion. George's brother, a Ranger, is less fortunate; he is seen only briefly after being fatally wounded in an attack by the invaders. In the book, the narrator's brother has a much bigger role in the story.
A major deviation from the text is that the protagonist actually tries to produce a means of stopping the Martians, but the film does not show if his efforts cause their eventual downfall.
The novel's Artilleryman is divided into two characters. The first, Kerry Williams, exhibits the defeated status. He accompanies George as they move to unaffected areas, meeting soldiers oblivious to the danger they will soon face, until they become separated when George takes refuge underwater to elude the Martians. After his ordeal in the ruined house, George encounters same defeated Williams again. Instead, the other personality, portrayed in the novel's later stages, is Lt. Samuelson.
The novel's unnamed Curate is film's Pastor Victor. While the two are very similar, the pastor is fairly calm and is sure that the invasion is the Rapture. However, his faith is deeply shaken when he meets a congregate who screams against God for the loss of her family, causing the Pastor to question why he himself has yet to be taken.
Unlike the Curate, the Pastor keeps his composure when he's trapped in the ruined house as he wrestles with his thoughts. Where the Curate had to be subdued in the novel, the Pastor regains his faith just before he is killed by the Martians.
Some of the chapters on the DVD are given the same name to chapters in the novel, a similar idea used in the DreamWorks version.
David Michael Latt and producing War of the Worlds
David Michael Latt often expresses his fascination for H.G. Wells' novel in the DVD's Audio Commentary and Behind the scenes features. He had written a script for War of the Worlds a year before production of the film, and upon learning that DreamWorks were making their own War of the Worlds film, The Asylum soon began production.
David Michael Latt based the themes of the film (internationally titled Invasion) on the 2002 film The Pianist, which tells the true story of a Polish Jew who struggles to survive the battle between the Wehrmacht and the a Jewish resistance in the Second World War. Latt used the similar themes of a man's survival as civilization around him reduces to ruin, stating:
"I tell my friends [War of the Worlds] is like The Pianist, but instead of Nazis you have aliens."
Like the protagonist of The Pianist, the main character of War of the Worlds is not shown to have any kind of resistance or plans to fight back, only a persistance to keep alive. The film is considered by some to be the darkest retelling of Wells' novel, and described by actor Andy Lauer as a "sci-fi noir".
The casting for Andy Lauer was almost sudden, himself having an interest of working with The Asylum. Latt had concerns about Tinarie Van Wyk-Loots ' casting, assuming she may object to her naked sequence at the beginning of the film. However, Van Wyk-Loots had no objections and was more than happy in starring in War of the Worlds, being a fan of science fiction (admitting to have seen "every episode of Star Trek ever made"). The casting of C. Thomas Howell seemed to be more complicated, as he was currently starring in an American TV show. David Michael Latt and Andy Lauer were confident in getting Howell in the film, and Howell was happy to read the script and accepted (in fact, he was so happy with the film that he would eventually direct the sequel). Howell offered his son Dashiell as a role to play Alex Herbert, when he found that Latt was looking for an eight-year-old to fill in the role. Jake Busey's audition was successful, having won the role on the first day of auditions. His scenes were all filmed in one day. He tells that one of his favorite films as a child was the 1953 War of the Worlds.
The development of Invasion's plot and characters was a challenge. Adapting the characters and plot faithfully from the novel was tricky to retell for a modern audience, so there are some significant changes. For example, readers will notice that the "eve of the war" arch is almost absent from the film, skipping the novel's earlier characters and details of the "safe and tranquil" world before the invasion begins. This is, however, easy to understand because of the film's length. The film also ignores the sub-plot of Book One: The Coming of the Martians, in which the book's perspective shifts to the narrator's brother, who accompanies two women to safety and witnesses the battle between the aliens and the HMS Thunderchild. A sub-plot would violate the nature of the film, and also increase its length.
On April 1, 2008, a sequel, War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, was released. C. Thomas Howell directed the film and reprised the role of George Herbert, and his son Dash Howell reprised the role of Alex. The film also starred Christopher Reid.
- War of the Worlds, Steven Spielberg's 2005 blockbuster which is also a contemporary adaptation of H. G. Wells novel.
- H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, a more faithful, lower-budget film adaptation of the novel.
- The Pianist, a 2002 film that inspired this film's themes.
- The Day the Earth Stopped, another Asylum film starring C. Thomas Howell that features an invasion by extraterrestrials.
- Breihan, Tom (October 10, 2012). "Mockbuster video". Grantland.com. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
- Maçek III, J.C. "H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005) Review". World's Greatest Critic. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- "Herbert George Welles Biography". European Graduate School. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
- H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds Official page.
- H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds at the Internet Movie Database
- H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds at Rotten Tomatoes