Saturday, 23 January 2016

The War of the Worlds (1953)

"The Martians can conquer the Earth in six days."

"The same number of days it took to create it!"

Oh dear. This film seems to be well liked. Sorry, but I'm about to give it quite the spanking. Oh, it looks good; the Martians and their craft look great. But this film is a badly written piece of crude religious propaganda with shockingly poor characterisation and hammy acting. Yes, I know it's a melodrama, but it isn't even amusing or gun to watch on a MST2000 kind of way. This is not the worst film I've seen all year, but it is the most disappointing.

Things start on a bad footing with Cedric Hardwicke, narrating and acting as the voice of H.G. Wells, gives us a tour of the Solar System that is shockingly inaccurate even for a time before space probes. Apparently Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are not gas giants, Mercury is the only planet with no air, and Venus doesn't exist. Yes, that's right. They seem just to have forgotten it.

But then the film itself starts. And it gets worse. Oh, it's essentially just Wells' novel transplanted to McCarthy's America, but the film presents a grim picture of California in 1953, where the only thing to do on a Saturdsy night is a "square dance", whatever that is, with Coke instead of proper drink and, you know, fun. Life for these people can only improve under their new Martian overlords.

And then there's the stifling and crudely overdone Christian element, far too blatant to be a subtext. Now, I may be a Godless heathen myself, but I have no objection to religious subtexts in films. But this is about as subtle as a punch in the face- even the final defeat of the Martians by bacteria is portrayed as a divine miracle. And I get no sense of any true religious feeling; this is churchgoing as enforced respectability and conformity.

So... yeah. I didn't like this film much. Sorry. Still, I have high hopes for some of the films I have lined up...

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