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|Index||232 reviews in total|
To be an effective thriller, a sci-fi film absolutely must impart to the
viewer a sense of --- coldness, either the physical coldness of outer space
or other worlds, or the emotional coldness of science.
Cedric Hardwicke's opening narrative in "The War Of The Worlds" is brutally cold, and the added images uninviting. The martian machines, vaguely resembling "legless swans", are both beautiful and terrifying. They move slowly, in a graceful but calculating manner. They warn of their approach with an eerie, unearthly "pinging" sound.
In the scene where the priest walks toward one of the "swans", the aliens do not impulsively open fire. Instead, they wait. The cruel "eye" peers down on the priest, studying him, in a foreboding prelude to his inevitable annihilation.
Other scenes in the first half also convey this needed sense of alien coldness. We can, therefore, forgive the film for its somewhat corny plot.
The film's second half is weaker because the aliens have to compete for screen time with Los Angeles mob scenes, a showy and irksome display of American military hardware, and dry narration of military war tactics. But even in this second half, suspense filters through, as we watch the heartless "swans" eject their heat rays on a helpless Los Angeles.
For sci-fi films made before "2001: A Space Odyssey", "The War Of The Worlds" is one of my three favorites, along with "Robinson Crusoe On Mars" and "Forbidden Planet".
Somewhere out in the American West, a huge meteor-like projectile crashes in the soil. Everyone initially believes it to be nothing more than a meteor, but soon all learn it is really an investigative ship from the planet Mars out to destroy anything and everything in its path. This film directed by Byron Haskin, based on a script by Barre Lyndon, and produced by George Pal is one of the quintessential science fiction films of the 50's, otherwise known as the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Based on the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, this film keeps the spirit of the book intact while changing some things like the setting. The book takes place primarily in and around London. All of the talents in this film help make The War of the Worlds an innovative, intelligent, and evocative film that tries to get one thinking about alien invaders and their intentions. The earthlings in this film are the good ones...trying to be friendly, yet, treated as nothing more than impediments in the Martians' way. So many scenes in this film are strong: the army fighting the Martian space ship while a man of God tries to make peace with the strangers, the old farmhouse, and the ending as the aliens attack Los Angelos. Acting is strong too as leads Gene Barry - doing a very good job as a scientist who just happens to be nearby - and Ann Robinson convincingly portray what life might be like in a world with such horrific news. But despite a first-rate script, solid direction from Haskin, and good acting, The War of the Worlds owes its greatest debt to producer George Pal. Pal knew how to put films like this together and was a driving force in the film's innovative and unique special effects. Who could forget those bright green Martian ships or that figure of a Martian?
For it's day; and, even this day, this is classic, almost perfect, masterpiece. Brilliant design work on the alien ships, incredible sound effects, and sharp, vivid colors. Pacing in this film is tight, and Barry's performance as a scientist in giddy awe of the alien's capabilities is masterful. Finally, the realism of the story telling is unrivalled in most modern science fiction films. All right, it's not true to Wells' original, but what's wrong with updating the story, especially when it is this effective.
This film is easily one of the Top Ten of the Sci-Fi genre. Producer George
Pal and director Byron Haskin certainly reached a creative plateau back in
1953 that is seldom attained even now in the current age of CGI effects and
I was lucky to attend the 50th anniversary screening in Hollywood recently, with Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, other actors and production people from the film, and 'Mr. Sci-Fi' Forrest J. Ackerman, all in attendance. To see it on a full size theater screen for the first time, and with these people there, was the thrill of a lifetime, for sure!
The Martians and their war machines in this movie are still some of the best and most memorable designs in the history of science fiction films. The color cinematography and musical score also hold up very well. And any film that starts off with the beautiful space art paintings of Chesley Bonestell has my vote of approval. Also, Jack Northrup's Flying Wing bomber puts in a splendid cameo appearance.
Simply the best 'alien invasion' type film ever made - bar none!
HG Wells' futuristic novel responds well to the Technicolor splashed on it
in this 50s B classic. Gene Barry over emotes in the lead now and then but
the martian invasion is handled very well and the tension rises to the final
scenes where the surviving populace huddle in the church as the buildings
crash and burn around them.
'War of the Worlds' deserves its place as both a highly regarded novel and a well-remembered movie. Byron Haskin and George Pal did a great job in visualising the apocalyptic bits of Wells' text, while still making the end result enjoyable and interesting for the viewer.
Recommended for fans of intellectualised science fiction.
Cheesy, Yes! But...
Probably the creepiest and most horrifying scenes in Filmdom was when the Martian crept up behind our heroine and clamped its tarsier-like fingers on her shoulder.
She freaked, but not immediately. She paused. Reacted to that touch. Slowly turned her head around and LOOKED at the offending appendages.
This entire moment of horror and violation took about four to six seconds.
Her mind - finally - comprehended it. IT had touched her.
Then she lost it.
One of the best screams in film history. Great acting and just overwhelming.
For that one scene, I love this movie. Creepy as hell!
George Pal redeems himself after the appalling special effects from "When Worlds Collide" by giving us one of the best science fiction movies from the 1950's. Without the use of Industrial Light & Magic or THX, George Pal created the near-perfect illusion of flying swan-like Martian machines attacking the Earth. (Near-perfect because you can faintly see the wires) Ann Robinson gives a BRILLIANT performance as "The damsel in distress". Sandro Giglio (from "When Worlds Collide") returns as one of the scientists. Also Leith Stevens returns from "When Worlds Collide" to provide the music. You'll notice too that some of the footage from this movie comes from "When Worlds Collide". I must add...look for George Pal & Byron Haskins as the hobos listening to the radio.
Decided to view this film which has been showing on TV for a very long time and enjoyed the great efforts of the director to create a great Classic Sci-Fi Film. Gene Barry (Dr. Clayton Forrester),"Burke's Law,TV Series, '63, gave a great performance hiding behind some rather large framed glasses. Ann Robinson,(Sylvia Van Buren),"Imitation of Life",'59 gave a great supporting role and helped Dr. Forrester try to defeat the invading enemy from another planet. This is a great Classic film from the 1950's, however, I am very glad that our films industry has progressed since this flick. I never thought we would ever see just what the enemy looked like and the ending of the film will surprise you to NO END!!! KEEP PRAYING!
Even though this is not a literal translation of the H.G. Welles classic, this is still a good film. I especially loved how it was updated to the 20th century and that all our modern weapons, including the atom bomb, couldn't destroy the Martians. George Pal is definitely one of the most underrated directors of science fiction and this film along his When Worlds Collide and The Time Machine stand out among the great science fiction films of all time.
The acting is so superior to the original especially Dr. Forrester compared to Tom Cruise. Even Sylvia is a better actress than anyone in the remake. Many younger people may avoid this film because they are going to be afraid the effects will stink. No, believe it or not, this features the best effects of any movie before 1970. The effects are so excellent that the people who did Robinson Crusoe on Mars stole these space ships. They show little beams that hold the ships in the air magnetically, very well done. Watch this cast convey fear versus the newer bad actors. It contains one of the scariest scenes in any movie. I will not spoil it for you just get ready to see popcorn go flying all around your living room. The remake, wisely, did not even try to mimic it. It will seem a little corny and phony with the square dance, and the community activities but it really was like that. When I was growing up, it was a world of parks, activities and communities, just like it is depicted here. They wiped it all out before I could really be a part of it. Watch, compared to Independence Day, how no time is spent trying to communicate with them. In Independence Day, even after they wipe out half the country, the president is still trying to cut a deal. Like all science fictions from the 50s, with the exception of the Space Children, we lock and load.
Some people get offended at the priest getting burned up, hey, these are stand ins for the godless Commies. That scene was necessary to relay to the audience, that the enemy is always godless and ruthless. It will seem so odd, like Earth Versus The Flying Saucers, how we start firing with no attempt to negotiate. Find a movie of this genre in the 50s where we did. It has some really creepy parts in it. The movie is quite short which is a good thing. It gets going and never stops until the ending. There is a hiding out in the farmhouse scene but that is why the director put the scariest scene in there; you think it is boring then BAM!, he scares the crap out of you. Acting is important in horror or science fiction because the premise is so far fetched we need believability out of the actors. This cast will not let you down. I know, there is an intentionally funny part with the radio guy freaking everybody out about the invaders. Look, there are always parts like this in old movies, try not to notice. It is not as funny as Dr. Marvin putting that alien helmet on in Earth Versus The Flying Saucers. A Great Movie, the best the 50s had to offer with Forbidden Planet.
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