The War of the Worlds (1953)

"Excellent"

The War of the Worlds (1953) Review


Though he died more than 50 years ago, novelist H.G. Wells was a visionary, and many of his visions have stayed with us. A utopian and socialist, Wells nevertheless wrote dark books that were out of step with the progressive mood of his time. (For example, in The Time Machine he offers a rosy picture of the future - where one half of the human race eats the other half as food.)

Wells was one of the inventors of science fiction, and perhaps the first writer to think about just how bad an alien invasion could be. His novel The War of the Worlds was so effective that a generation later, the radiocast by Orson Welles convinced many Americans for a few hours that the invasion was real.

The first movie version, made in 1953, departs from the book in some ways but captures its foreboding mood, and it's a cut above most of the thousands of sci-fi thrillers made during the '50s/'60s drive-in era. The special effects are unexceptional even for the time, and serve as only a blueprint for the scary vision fleshed out by Steven Spielberg in 2005. But the filmmakers tell the story straight, and it's a strong one. There's even an inspiring moral: Sometimes the little guys win. In this case, really little guys (bacteria). (Wells is partly responsible for the fact that early sci-fi movies usually included a moral.)

Spielberg's remake is visually overwhelming. The visual impact of the 1953 film, to put it nicely, does not compare, but that doesn't mean it's not a good film in its own way. When the alien finally appears on screen, wow, that's some bad puppet work, but since the alien only appears briefly, it doesn't spoil the atmosphere. There's a principle of good filmmaking here: Sometimes the less you see, the scarier it is, and that's true even when the puppet work is good. This is vintage Cold War-era sci-fi, and one of the best films in the genre.

The new Special Edition DVD features a cleaned up picture, two commentary tracks, a historical featurette, and Welles' original Worlds radio broadcast.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.