Thursday, March 19, 2015

War of the Worlds - 1953

You know what I love about writing this blog?  I love that it gives me a totally realistic excuse to watch movies I never have, to rewatch movies that I didn't appreciate the first time around, and to watch classic films that I had not seen before.  I mean really, I had never seen Donovan's Brain, or the Brain from Planet Arous!  Those movies were goddamn priceless!  While I have seen War of the Worlds before it's been ages, hell, it could have even been over 20 years.  So watching it again was like seeing it the first time.  I had completely forgotten everything about it.

Another thing I've noticed is that these movies fall into two categories.  Movies where you need just a couple sentences to convey the plot and movies where you have to describe everything in like two or even three paragraphs.  Of course the harder to describe ones you could just do a rough idea, say "aliens come to Earth and terrorize humans" or "a couple guys decide to kill someone".  But this is a movie review website and some plot synopsis comes with the territory.

War of the Worlds is your classic alien invasion story.  We follow scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester (hey, that name sound familiar, fans of MST3K?) as he observes a strange meteor crash in the hills.  He rushes to the crash site and sees what appears to be a large, burned meteor.  Some other locals are there, and they're all stunned at a few anomalies, such as the radioactivity of the thing, the angle of it's descent, and the fact it did not make a bigger impact crater.

Then, they leave the site after a while under the watch of three guards.  That's when a round hatch on the meteor starts to slowly unscrew, pop out, and reveal a very strange tentacle looking thing.  I have to say the tension here is masterfully done.  It's a moment where you feel like anything is possible, the unscrewing as the guys look on in curiosity and terror is tremendously achieved and breathtaking. The tentacle fries the guys and starts a fire. Forrester and a bunch of others see the smoke, go investigate, and find a cool looking silver spaceship thing that has a long tentacle coming out of it.

The spaceship effects in this movie are terrific.  Sure, by our standards now they look cheesy and too colorful to be taken seriously.  But who the fuck says aliens would have to fly huge ominous looking black evil spaceships?  Why shouldn't they look like a child's play toy?
There's a really cool moment when a priest tries to approach the spaceships and pray for peace, and gets fried.  There's really just nothing but cool moments as the humans get obliterated.  Another super tension filled and terrifying moment is when Forrester and his love interest Sylvia are in a house, separated from everyone else, right where the aliens are attacking.  They have to be really quiet because the aliens might hear them as they sneak around the house.  Then, the aliens lower some sort of weird eye thing down to look inside the house.  It's just incredibly weird looking and a moment in the film where I was legitimately freaked the fuck out.

It's that fear and knowledge that anything is possible; we know they won't die, but that curiosity of what the fuck are the aliens doing, what is this eye thing?  It looks creepy and outworldly too.  Anyways,  Forrester and romance interest Sylvia stay out of the fray and follow the human war front, as the humans eventually try and kill the bastard aliens with an atom bomb (of course).

It's great how powerful the aliens really are.  They are invulnerable to everything, and shrug off the huge blast of the atom bomb with little care.  All looks bleak and final towards the end.  The aliens have crushed mankind's every attempt at stopping them, the atom bomb was useless, and Forrester gets separated from Sylvia.  It's an ending where you know that it's going to end happy, with the aliens losing, but you genuinely feel like it's a depressing, defeating finish.  Which for the time and the era was unfathomable.

This movie is absolutely a classic must see.  I could see all the things large and small that modern alien films stole from this, films like Independence Day are basically carbon copies with modern loopy shit thrown in.  It holds up amazingly well and the effects are stunning.  I would recommend this for everyone, but at the same time it might be creepy to the very young.  But fuck them, show it to them anyways.  This is when sci fi was not only good, not only creepy, but genuinely a fucking thrill ride.  Highest rating, of course.

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