The trailer for that Fox version is just… weird. Like, if they didn’t explicitly state “War of the Worlds”, I wouldn’t have any idea that this was even remotely related to H. G. Wells. Which makes me suspect it is not.
The BBC version looks like it could be a better remake than the Spielberg version. Looks spectacular, but hopefully it will be more than just actors looking on in awe and running in terror. I think Spielberg’s version had the right ideas, but gets lost along the way to the ending - and part of the reason is that the ending of WotW is inherently anti-climactic. Will be interesting to see how they solve that.
I don’t think the ending is so much inherently anti-climatic as that it just doesn’t work in a modern setting. As one of my friends put it, “They could invent interstellar travel, but not the hepa filter?” It’s just somehow easier to believe that bacteria could bump off the invaders in a turn of the 20th century invaders from Mars setting.
Perhaps the Red Weed on Mars/Planet X means there aren’t any airborne viruses or bacteria. Perhaps the Martians failings is that they didnt have any scientists or science fiction authors predicting tiny ever evolving lifeforms that can kill them.
To be fair you have to consider the source material and the era in which it was written. HG wrote this in the late 1890’s and we were just beginning to understand bacteria and microscopic life. Now that’s no excuse for modernized versions but if the BBC thing wants to stick true to the source material and it looks like that is their intent, then we will have to accept that and understand that it is pure fiction from over a century ago.
Anti-climactically dying of bacteria is still better than launching 30-40 remaining F-18s at an alien mothership loaded with hundreds of superior fighter drones in the hopes that one of them will be able to get perfectly aligned upside-down to the aperture of the laser opening, and suicidally fly up into it at the precise moment that it fires; and when that succesfully destroys it, we are to presume they succesfully use the same technique to the other 20 motherships roaming the world, when they’ve already said the military has been decimated to like 12% of its original strength & you probably lost most of it in that last attack.
Yes, I was referring to the Spielberg version. That modern version involves interstellar travel by the invaders, as opposed to the Martians of the H.G. Wells version. It’s simply easier to accept the Martians being unaware of earth microbes in the 1890’s than it is for star-hopping aliens in a modern setting.
Was referring to both, though the modern setting in Spielberg certainly doesn’t help.
As @Menzo says, the problem with the story is that the characters really have little agency - that worked for Wells when this kind of writing was new, but really doesn’t work very well in a story today. Spielberg tried to fix that by building up the story around Cruise and his kids, but completely failed to stick the landing with their character arcs.
This is fair and something I hadn’t considered. If the story is well done and the characters have meaningful arcs, the actual alien invasion can just be the setting, like Walking Dead when it was good, or even Empire of the Sun.
But if the focus is on the aliens (like in Spielberg’s version) or the characters have no arcs (also Spielberg), it sucks as a device.
I guess it’s ironic that Spielberg clearly knows how to do it right. In Empire of the Rising Sun they didn’t focus on the war, how to fight it, or how to stop it.
So I guess what I’m saying is that it would be nice if this were more like Empire of the Rising Sun than the newer War of the Worlds movie.
Envisioning refugee columns fleeing large industrialised cities from a military invasion where firepower can be massive and indiscriminate with no thought to collateral damage (total war) wasn’t unique to this. It was part of a wave of Invasion Literature from that period but it probably captured the “massive firepower” bit of the following world wars more than its peers.
Recently listened to the Audible audiobook that has this, Time Machine, The First Men in the Moon, and The Island of Doctor Moreau, and I just loved all of them, but especially the War of the Worlds - I was surprised at how different it was than the movie adaptations, unlike the others, so I’m really looking forward to what looks like a more faithful adaptation from the BBC. It’s an amazing disaster/apocalyptic story, with one of the best endings of all time.
Spielberg was trying to do some interesting things in his version of WotW, but was only moderately successful.
The first thing to note is that Spielberg’s version was an allegory for the war in Iraq. He took Wells’ basic outline and tried to tell a story about being invaded by a force that massively outguns you. How you might be driven to indiscriminate violence against your countrymen simply to survive; how young people reflexively want to run off and fight the invaders even though they know it’s futile; and how an ordinary person might be driven to suicide attacks as the only way to hurt the invaders.
In Spielberg’s telling, he tried to take Wells’ ending with the aliens dying of local diseases and turn it into an allegory too: They (the aliens/Americans) tried to tear everything down and establish something that worked in their own lands, but were undone because they didn’t understand what they were getting into.
And as someone said above, Spielberg didn’t stick the landing with the silly “happy ending”. If he wanted to make a film about how war changes and ruins good people, he needed to show the aftermath.
But still, I kind of love this movie, if only for the feelings it managed to evoke in me during the excellent second act. The burning train, the bodies in the river, the scene with the news crew and the airliner… all really great.
… But that is in fact the entire point of Wells’s story.
Here’s what War of the Worlds is not about: humanity banding together to save themselves against impossible odds by their own pluck, hard work and ingenuity.
It’s about humanity getting its ass thoroughly kicked, being completely doomed, and only surviving by chance because unthinking, unfeeling microbes, and not people, are in fact Earth’s Chosen Ones.
It’s a horror story about the apocalypse, which is why the modern attempts to “fix” it by making humans agents of their salvation miss the mark. You’re not supposed to feel good about humans at the end of it. You’re supposed to feel like they should have gotten wiped out.