- This article should not be confused with H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, another film adaptation released in 2005. It should also not be confused with the original H.G. Wells novel.
This version of the film - IMDB Reference http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0449040 - did not make it to theatres but was filmed the same year as the one Spielberg made. It was followed by War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave and is rated R for partial nudity, strong violence, and strong language.
On the surface of Mars, the Mars Rover is destroyed by an unknown force. Astronomer George Herbert (Howell) and his wife Felicity (Van Wyk Loots) are packing for a trip to Washington D.C. to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. George's son Alex tries to spot Mars through his telescope, but actually discovers a meteorite entering Earth's atmosphere. George is called to work about the incident, and his wife and son leave early for Washington without him. As he drives to work, a crashing meteorite disrupts all technology in the area. An alien "walker" emerges from the meteorite and massacres the witnesses with an energy weapon, George barely escaping with his life. George decides to meet with his younger brother Matt in Hopewell before moving on to D.C..
Despite rumours that D.C. has suffered some of the worst of the invasion thus far, George continues his journey and meets with Sgt. Kerry Williams, the last remaining member of his squad. George and Kerry meet with Lt. Samuelson, a power-mad soldier with unrealistic notions of resistance against the invaders, who rejects George and Kerry as cowards. In Hopewell, the aliens launch a heavy insurrection and George and Kerry find Matt dying in the trail of destruction. George is separated from Kerry in the confusion and escapes the attack. A Pastor, Victor, finds George and describes his belief that the invasion is a form of the Rapture. The two go on together towards D.C.. Victor's faith in Christianity is deeply shaken when a hysterical former member of his church curses God for the death of her young children. George and Victor witness the final effort of the military to fight off the walkers who are overwhelmed as the aliens begin using chemical weapons to disperse their opposition.
The two seek refuge in the abandoned house of a veterinarian for food and medical supplies when the neighborhood is flattened by another of the aliens' ships. Hiding in the house's ruins deep in the aliens' camp, Victor concludes that God has abandoned them, and rejects his religion altogether. Rations become sparse and the aliens begin harvesting humans. George finds rabies vaccines with the hope that it can spread among the aliens and give them a chance to escape. Victor regains his faith after George successfully infects one of the aliens, only for it to kill Victor and leave. George realizes after a few days that the aliens have left the area and he continues his journey on foot to Washington D.C.. George reunites with Kerry and Samuelson, who has made himself a general and is building a resistance under his own dictatorship. Samuelson senselessly murders Kerry, and George in turn murders Samuelson.
George finally reaches Washington, which is completely destroyed. He offers his life to the aliens, but finds that they are all dead. A handful of human survivors emerge and reveal to George that the aliens have been dying from a virus. George finds Felicity and Alex alive.
- C. Thomas Howell as Dr. George Herbert
- Andy Lauer as Sgt. Kerry Williams
- Rhett Giles as Pastor Victor
- Tinarie Van Wyk-Loots as Felicity Herbert
- Jake Busey as Lt./General Samuelson
- Peter Greene as Matt Herbert
- Dashiell Howell as Alex Herbert
- Edward DeRuiter as Max
Adapting the NovelEdit
Director/editor/executive producer/co-writer David Michael Latt (who admits to never seeing the Byron Haskin/George Pal version or the 1988 television series, but has been a fan of the H.G. Wells novel since childhood) made it clear that his film changed certain aspects from the source material in addition to the time and location. Most notable is that the tripodshave been changed to six-legged crab-like machines called "walkers" (a result of allowing the effects team creative freedom).
The aliens are indeed Martians (though the film never states this, it is confirmed with an opening credit sequence using shots of the Red Planet's landscape), but they bear little resemblance to their novel's counterparts. Whereas Wells described his invaders as bear-sized tentacled creatures, the film's Martians are insect-like with four tentacle-like legs. These aliens also have the ability to spit acid from their feet, which melts anything. At the end of the legs three tongue-like appendages closely resemble the Martian fingers from Byron Haskin's 1953 film version of The War of the Worlds and the 1988 television series version.
The war machines are crab-like "walkers" with six legs. A Heat Ray is built into the machine's "head", and is fired from a single eye. The fighting machines do not appear to have protection against modern artillery (avoiding the "invisible shields" seen in the 1953 film version and Steven Spielberg's 2005 film), leaving their ability to conquer unexplained. The aliens do have a substance similar to the black smoke, but is more of a dense green toxic gas unable to rise above ground level, allowing survivors to escape by getting to high places.
The protagonist is George Herbert, a reference to H. G. Wells. Rather than being a writer, as in the novel, he is an astronomer. The film leaves the eve of the war storyline and its characters almost completely absent. He also has a son, who is portrayed by Dashiell Howell, who is actually the son of George's actor C. Thomas Howell.
Despite these differences, George goes through much of what befalls the novel's protagonist, even in sacrificing himself to the Martians, only for them to drop dead of infection. He is also separated from his family and tries to reunite with them once the invasion begins, As in the novel, they are alive at the conclusion. George's brother, a Ranger, is less fortunate; he is seen only briefly after being fatally wounded in an attack by the invaders. In the book, the narrator's brother takes up a major narrative role.
A major deviation from the text is that the protagonist actually tries to produce a means of stopping the Martians, but whether or not he is directly responsible for their downfall is ambiguous. There is a theme of disease throughout - George's son is seen suffering from a mild cold, while George himself suffers from a major fever which leaves him incapacitated for two days.
The novel's Artilleryman is divided into two characters. The first, Kerry Williams, exhibits the defeated status. He accompanies George as they move to unaffected areas, meeting soldiers oblivious to the danger they will soon face, until they become separated when George takes refuge underwater to evade the Martians. After his ordeal in the ruined house, George encounters the same defeatist Williams again. Instead, the other personality, portrayed in the novel's later stages, is Lt. Samuelson.
The novel's unnamed Curate is the film's Pastor Victor. While the two are very similar, the pastor is optimistic and is sure that the invasion is the Rapture. However, his faith is deeply shaken when he meets a congregant who screams against God for the loss of her family, causing the Pastor to question why he himself has yet to be taken. Unlike the Curate, the Pastor keeps his composure when he's trapped in the ruined house as he wrestles with his thoughts. Where the Curate had to be subdued in the novel, the Pastor regains his faith just before he is killed by the Martians.
The film includes homages to the 1953 film. The aliens' hands deliberately resemble those of the Martians of the 1953 film, and the protagonists of each film both actively try to weaken the aliens, another deviation from the novel.
The film has received mixed reception with a 45% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Everything Action states that the movie generally follows the outline of Wells' book. Many other companys have stated that this movie rates 7/10. Still, if your a War of the World's fan, try to watch it.
On April 1, 2008, a sequel, War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, was released. C. Thomas Howell directed the film and reprised the role of George Herbert, and his son Dash Howell reprised the role of Alex. The film also starred Christopher Reid.