H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005) from Brainscan

A Public Service Announcement.

I usually write these things to amuse ever so slightly and ever so briefly.  But today's blather is different.  I am here to warn readers of the Movie House.  Run away.  Run away.  Run the fuck away. 

When should you run away, you ask.  Whenever you see the cover for a movie entitled H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005).  Everyone knows that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a competing version of WOTW, so keeping these things straight is important.  This version, which followed a masterly bit of storytelling from the 50's, and came out the same year as the blockbuster version from Spielberg, is the single worst movie I have ever watched.  Ever.  Let's put that in some context, shall we?  Last movie I reviewed was Rent-A-Girl.  And not too long ago I did this thing called Moonshine Love.  Ah, the days of Moonshine Love.  I wish I could say I had watched Moonshine Love last night for one good reason -- then I would not have watched H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds.  I would consider that a vast improvement in my life.

Perhaps it would be best to start by comparing this wretched hunk of donkey shit to the Spielberg movie.  We all know how that one, with Mr. Katie Holmes in the lead, started off right nice.  'Twas almost an hour's worth of serious entertainment.  Things blew up real good, a host of actors portrayed a people in panic; and Spielberg did a great job of pushing the pace to get across the impending doom of individuals and, in the end, of humankind.  Righteous good stuff. But then the former Mr. Nicole Kidman gets into a basement with Tim Robbins and the two of them act the living fuck out of the scene and the whole shebang turns its toes to the sky and dies.  What follows is garbage...the worst of storytelling.  Oh well, it was a good first hour.

And this version?  The first minute is serious entertainment, with the lovely Tinarie Van Wyk-Loost stepping out of a shower and drying off, all the while talking with C. Thomas Howell (that's right...you read that correctly....C. Thomas Howell).  All that is worth watching in this movie is Tinarie Van Wyk-Loost, who looks more than a bit like Angelina Jolie, topless and smiling. Nothing following this scene is worth a nanosecond of your time.  From the time her towel goes around her bod and all her charms get covered, the movie degenerates into the single most atrocious, incompetent, boring piece of movie-making in the history of the universe and other things.  It is claustrophobic, with the camera showing us the edge of destruction.  So often that camera stays right smack on the face of the noted thespian, C Thomas Howell, as he gazes upon horror rather than show us the damn horror.  And when it finally swings 'round to reveal what he has seen, the view is fleeting.  Why?  Because the jackasses who made this thing spent 11 cents on special effects.  The effects are horrible. They are wretched.  They are inane.  Just like the people assigned to do them.  Were CT an actor in any sense of the word, all this might have been less obnoxious ... this tactic of having him portray horror with his face.  Oh, I agree that aged face is a horrible sight, almost as appalling as seeing him in blackface a couple decades ago.  But the tactic of living out the horror in the lines of another's face does not work.  Not one little bit.

The makers of this movie decided to go Mel Gibson on us.  They have turned the original's light-handed approach to the wisdom of the Almighty into a heavy angst-ridden struggle by an Australian preacher as he tries to make sense of aliens killing His people.  You get minute after minute of bathos and faux piety and the kind of internal and eternal struggle that is covered nicely in a class of 5th-grade Sunday schoolers.  This stuff is so god-awful the Mrs. and I howled in pain as one scene after another plumbed the same depths with an intellect shorter than the former Mr. Mimi Rogers.  We wore out the frickin' FF button.  I am sending the producers of this movie a bill for its replacement.

I could go on.  The silly-ass bastards hired Gary Busey's son to play the quintessential Gary Busey role of a crazed military commander.  All the boy had to do was watch one or two of his dad's later efforts and then imitate him as best he could...which turned out to be not so good.  They also hired the lovely Tinarie to play Howell's wife and the mother of their 10-yr-old son.  Tinarie is 26 years old right now.  She was at most 24 when the movie was filmed.  And she looks younger.  That would have made her 14 when the kid was supposed to be born.  Fourteen... as in years old.... as in the age of Jerry Lee Lewis's cousin when he married her. All that suggests the producer needed to read more carefully.  Tinarie is from South Africa, not South Carolina.

Perhaps all that is wrong with this making of War of the Worlds can be summed up in one scene.  CT and the Aussie preacher are making their way through the Virginia countryside to Washington DC.  CT has to get there to see if his child-bride and his son (played by his real-life son) are still alive.  But are they hauling ass, moving with any alacrity, adopting a pace that befits their mission?  No way, dude.  They are walking at a pace that a couple of octogenarians who have discovered true love in their last years might achieve on a particularly bad, arthritic day.  And then, for no reason we could see, they stop.  Dead stop, no movement, right there in the middle of things. 

Would only the movie had done likewise. 



  • Visual Effects: How'd They Do That? is a 4-minute peek at the alleged special effects.
  • behind the Scenes runs about 13 minutes and offers on-set interview segments
  • three minutes worth of deleted scenes
  • outtakes reel
  • widescreen anamorphic
  • Two audio commentaries. One is with director Dave Latt and actors Andy Lauer & Rhett Giles. The other includes producer David Rimawi, cinematographer Steve Parker, and FX supervisor Bill Powloski.



see the main commentary
Scoop's notes:

I haven't seen the film, but what are the odds that there would be two films of War of the Worlds released in the same year, and that each would star one of the youngsters featured in Coppola's incredibly prescient casting of 1983's The Outsiders? (The cast also featured Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, and Emilio Estevez, all of whom became stars, at least for a short time.)

More amazing is that the grade-B version starred the guy who was the central character in The Outsiders, while the Spielberg version starred one of the members of the support cast.

Most amazing of all is that C. Thomas Howell is actually three and a half years younger than Tom Cruise! They have aged in very different ways. If they appeared in a movie together today, unlikely through that seems at the moment, Howell could play Cruise's MUCH older brother.

The Critics Vote ...


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is an E, verging on F

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